By this Saturday, every emergency department waiting room in Nova Scotia will have a patient advocate hired to fetch blankets and coffee and make people comfortable while they wait.  

There will also soon be a “physician-first” triage system with a doctor assigned to every emergency department to assess people who arrive by ambulance. Triage from ambulances has previously been done by nurses and paramedics. 

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners will be hired to work as part of the emergency department teams and continually reassess patients in waiting rooms. 

Virtual care from an onscreen emergency doctor, who is available now at three emergency departments in Nova Scotia, will be expanded to two more hospitals in the next couple of months. This shaves an hour off patient visits, according to data from the pilot project, and has so far helped 1,300 patients. 

Paramedic training 

There will be two courses added to train more paramedics in Pictou and Yarmouth this year. And an air ambulance will allow patients in Sydney and Yarmouth to fly to Halifax for routine appointments when there is space on the aircraft. That will keep more ambulances on the road for true emergencies.  

More collaborative care clinics involving teams of health care professionals such as nurses, physiotherapists, and social workers, will be expanded in 37 communities and 14 new communities are contemplated for those services.

The cost will be in the tens of millions of dollars over this year and next.  

The goal of the collaborative care clinics is to keep people out of emergency departments. 

More to come.

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

Join the Conversation


Only subscribers to the Halifax Examiner may comment on articles. We moderate all comments. Be respectful; whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims. Please read our Commenting Policy.
  1. Finally Health Minister Michelle Thompson makes a statement that makes sense about “some” of the issues plaguing our ER departments.Add to this hospitals being torn down instead of being maintained, inability to get moving on new facilities and renovations,lack of more nursing and doctor educational seats to train more medical staff ( again underfunded university and community colleges by the province ) and a model of health care stuck in the past.
    I quote “Karen Oldfield, the president and CEO of Nova Scotia Health, urged people with skills in health care to come forward” …….”We’re looking for more help. If you’re a nurse or a nurse practitioner or a physician or any other health-care worker who’s looking for work, rest assured, I’m looking for you. Let us know that you’re available ”
    This is a ridiculous statement ~~ we don’t have the manpower Ms. Oldfield read the Ministers statement re decades in the making. There are no workers available or they have retired of left because of mismanagement of our health care by all political parties for decades.

  2. Where are the bodies coming from to fill these new positions, particularly the physician who will now be doing triage for ambulance offloads?

    And as Terry mentions – what about physician / nurse burnout? Is any attention being given to that part of the problem?

  3. Just not feasible that trained advocates will be available by Saturday, in Emerg waiting areas
    Physician manpower currently a big issue, the idea is good, to implement not short term
    Collaborative care practices a given, again not short term
    Expanded Pharmacist role long overdue
    When will we hear he names of the review committee
    Where has the Leadership been on these important issues

  4. Assistance for the ER Doctors and Nurses, which should help them in turn help patients get better care is great. This assistance is better late than never but why do we have to wait for people to unfortunately die to get action. plus, the medical staff are burning out right before our eyes and we are doing NOTHING about it. Maybe if the news journalists would have kept the these problems front and Centre on a continuous basis maybe the Teflon Tim Houston and his band would have reacted (this should not be confused with action as this clearly not of their own doing) sooner.
    However, you have to wonder if this is the only tangible step proposed/made/implemented since September 1,2021, and only comes about because of these unfortunate deaths, I think we can safely conclude HOUSTON (Teflon Tim) you are not the problem, but you have proven to be NOT be part of the solution.

    1. What pejorative words do you have for previous premiers and present and previous Prime Ministers ? Premier Houston has been in power for just 16 months and no reasonable person or organisation expects him to fix a system that has been in significant trouble for more than a decade during which time all parties ignored the looming disaster. My recent experience of the medical system was positive. I noticed significant hearing loss in one ear, saw my doctor the next day,an audiologist the day after and an appointment with an ENT doctor at the Dickson centre week later. People have been dying for more than a decade due to inadequate healthcare and a lack of focus from politicians of all parties.

      1. I once asked then Premier Dexter if there was any issue – like health care for example – that all parties could work together to improve in the way they came together for the benefit of the nation in England during World War 2. He thought about it for a moment then said no, he could never see it happening in Nova Scotia. That was over a decade ago .

        I sure hope that this could be seen as a cross-party matter today.
        If all 3 parties had a hand in reforming our health care system, if all three took credit for new ideas they collectively developed that worked out and all three could put their heads together to fix things that don’t rather than just attacking each other to score cheap partisan points, we might actually see well managed public health and wellness that costs no more for government to provide, leaves fewer people waiting years for elective surgery and results in less burnout / higher retention of health care providers. It’s not just about more money, although that’s part of it.

        If Premier Huston convened an all party standing committee to oversee improvement of health care, would rival parties dare refuse to be part of it?

        If political parties are unable to cooperate to advance such a vital issue for all of us, what use are they in Nova Scotia?