Patients and health care workers will soon see more long-termcare beds, faster home support for discharged emergency room (ER)patients and expansion of the QEII emergency room. These are some of the solutions outlined to nurses today, Jan.15, by Health Minister Angus MacIsaac and Don Ford, president andCEO of Capital Health, to relieve emergency room pressures in thedistrict. “I have never been so impressed by a group seeking my help as Iwas by the nurses who visited me last Thursday,” said Mr.MacIsaac. “Their genuine concern for the patients they are askedto serve under extreme conditions was important for me to hear. In turn, I learned from my discussions with the administration atCapital Health that many of the solutions were in hand, indevelopment by the internal team that had been working on thissince October. Together with some longer term solutions, we’removing it all into high gear.” “These issues are not new. Certainly the number of very sickpeople that were treated in our emergency rooms over the holidayperiod focused everyone’s attention on a serious and longstandingproblem,” said Mr. Ford. “The passion of our staff inrepresenting their patients will be a powerful asset as we worktogether to implement the solutions announced in today’s plan. “We all know the problems in emergency rooms are the result ofpressures throughout the health system. The solutions todayinvolve hospitals and long-term care facilities and theDepartment of Health. But over the long term, it is so importantthat we continue to invest time and energy in solutions thatprevent disease and promote health,” he said. “Our health statistics are among the worst in the country andthat, combined with our aging population, places more pressure onour hospitals than is viable or sustainable over the long term.The public and community health parts of our system now, morethan ever, need our support so that the next generation of NovaScotians will enjoy, in all respects, a healthier province. Withthe collaboration we experienced with the Department of Healthover the past week, we can go forward with confidence,” said Mr.Ford. The solutions announced today range from changes in CapitalHealth’s policy and processes that can be implemented immediatelyas well as system-wide measures. For instance, the Department ofHealth has committed to act on the recommendations for orthopedicsurgery that will come out of its Wait Time Report, expected tobe presented to the minister soon. The minister and Mr. Ford said the nurses had many practicalsuggestions from their direct experience with the ER bottlenecks.Many of the suggestions can be implemented quickly and withinexisting budgets. For example, Capital Health has committed to ensuring thatphysician consultations take place by specialists within an hourand a half of a patient being seen by the emergency roomphysician. The district will also move forward with a request for proposalsto design an expanded emergency room at the QEII. The ER wasoriginally built to accommodate 35,000 visits per year. This yearmore than 70,000 patients are expected. When the Robie Street parking garage at the Halifax Infirmary wasconstructed last year, a shelled-in space was also built toenable future expansion. The design costs are contained in thecurrent business plan. The time between design of the expansionand opening is about 16 to 18 months. The minister agreed to move forward to this fiscal year acommitment for more long-term care beds in the district. Thatcommitment had been part of next year’s Health budget. “We are keenly aware that long-term care beds are part of thesolution,” said Mr. MacIsaac. “I’m happy that government hasagreed that this district needs to be made an immediate priorityfor these beds in the same way we have made additional long-termcare beds a priority for the Annapolis Valley district.” The minister emphasized that the problems that have come to ahead in the QEII emergency department are ones that are beingaddressed through the system-wide long-term planning contained in Nova Scotia’s plan for health care, Your Health Matters. He also noted that, last year, Nova Scotia became the firstprovince in Canada to guarantee new funding to hospitals over thecoming years.