After a number of recent deaths in Nova Scotia emergency departments that garnered international attention, the province is investing in making changes to E.R.’s to get speedier care to urgent cases.

The plan promises to improve ambulance response times and offer more options for people receiving care, thereby easing pressure on emergency departments.

What’s The Plan for Nova Scotia Emergency Departments?

The key element of the plan is to increase the number of patient advocates, nurse practitioners and physician assistants in emergency departments. Physician assistants can care for up to 62% of all patients in emergency departments under the supervision of a doctor.

Care providers will support patients in waiting rooms, and patient advocates will provide supportive actions such as talking to patients and offering food and blankets. Patient advocates will be in place in every emergency department by this coming Saturday, according to government officials.

Virtual care will be on offer to patients with less urgent needs.

“We are building a health-care system that is ready, responsive and reliable,” Health Minister Michelle Thompson said. “Nova Scotians are worried right now, I know that and I understand that. I want everyone to know that we are moving fast to make things better.”

“In order to take strain off emergency rooms, we also need to act quickly to enhance primary health care so that Nova Scotians have options other than the emergency room to receive the care they need. Recruitment and retention, leveraging technology and developing care teams where all providers use the full scope of practice are necessary,” explained Thompson.

Relief for Paramedics

The plan also provides supports for paramedics, which include:

  • Training provided at more local Community Colleges;
  • Tuition rebate of $11,500 for paramedics who work in the province for at least 3 years;
  • The addition of a second air ambulance to handle transfers of tests and treatments between local communities
  • Increased funding for training medical first responders

Karen Oldfield, interim president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Authority explains that the health-care system is changing at break-neck speed.

“We do have the three ingredients for meaningful change — necessary funding, experience around the province and we have political will,” Oldfield said.

More Upcoming Changes The Government Vows To Make

The government also announced plans for collaborative family medicine practices. These practices will see more patients, expand pharmacy services, add hours for virtual care and enable out-of-province doctors who are licensed in Nova Scotia to offer virtual care.

Also on the docket of government vows are providing more mobile primary care, mobile respiratory care clinics and urgent treatment centres. The government has plans to leverage tech to develop a new phone app that will help people find the right service provider for their needs.

“No one person can move this mountain by themselves, and we’re looking for more help,” Oldfield said. “If you’re a nurse, a nurse practitioner, a physician or any other health-care worker looking for work, rest assured I’m looking for you.”

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