New Brunswick initiative hopes to shorten time spent waiting in emergency rooms

A health network in New Brunswick is trying something new, hoping to end long wait times in emergency rooms.

In emergency rooms within the Vitalité Health Network, patients with "non-urgent issues" will have the option to book an appointment at a medical clinic, with a family physician or nurse practitioner within 48-hours.

“I would like to think both authorities are utilizing all resources that are available to patients so I think that’s a fine idea,” Premier Blaine Higgs said. “I would believe Horizon [Health Network] would indeed do the same because we need to ensure that we provide the service and we weill likely have to do it in different ways."

The English health network has not said whether it will join the pilot program.

BILINGUALISM CONCERNS

Not everyone is convinced the plan will meet bilingualism requirements.

“If the health authorities are not able to provide the service at the emergency room for non-urgent service at the end if the patient is sent to another location that the official language act and the service in both languages should apply and the people should be able to receive the service in their own language,” said Jean-Claude D’Amour, MLA Edmundston-Madawaska Centre.

The hospitals taking part in the pilot program are Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre, Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital, Chaleur Regional Hospital, Tracadie Hospital and Enfant-Jésus RHSJ† Hospital.

In the media release, the Vice President of Community Services and Mental Health said: “Patients who go to Emergency for a non-urgent issue often have difficulty obtaining access to a primary care provider in a timely fashion.”

Vitalite Health Network says any patient who accepts an appointment has the right to return to the emergency room for the same reasons or if their condition gets worse before their scheduled appointment.