Changes to stabilize emergency, strengthen primary care in Montague
Added resources and realigned services will help improve access to emergency department services and strengthen primary care for Kings County residents.
Health PEI is hiring dedicated emergency department physicians at Montague's Kings County Memorial Hospital (KCMH) to support the complement of family physicians already providing emergency care at the hospital. This will address the recent chronic challenges with physician coverage for emergency department shifts at KCMH.
“After talking with many Kings County residents and health care staff, we have developed a plan to create more stable and sustainable health care services for the region,” Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell said.
“By hiring additional physicians, we can be confident that the doors of the emergency department at KCMH remain open.
“We know that in order to have a viable and sustainable health-care system, we must put the emphasis on primary health care and ensuring that Islanders receive quality care – where and when they need it most,” the minister said. “In addition to hiring new physicians to provide emergency care, we are also enhancing access to primary care. We will be expanding the hours of operation at our health centre; residents who work or study during the day will soon be able to book evening appointments with their primary care provider.”
The new dedicated emergency department physicians will cover the majority of the shifts at KCMH, and family physicians will continue to cover the balance. The added support will allow the Montague-based family physicians to provide more primary care services by seeing more patients throughout the week who are part of their family practice.
In addition, Health PEI is enhancing primary care access for residents of Kings County at the Montague Health Centre. Beginning July 1, the health centre will be offering primary care services Monday and Wednesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for individuals who are patients of the Eastern Kings or Montague health centres only.
To further align with changes to primary care, the KCMH emergency department will adjust its operating hours, opening at 8 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m. daily starting July 1. The adjustment in operating hours is supported by local physicians and by evidence that shows patient volumes peak early in the day and over suppertime hours. The emergency department currently operates from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Health PEI will be reassessing the impact to emergency department services at the end of summer.
“These changes are a holistic approach to addressing concerns with access to both emergency and primary care in the region,” said Dr. André Celliers, family physician and executive director of medical affairs. “Our family physicians are the cornerstone of both emergency and primary care services in Kings County. By realigning our clinical resources in Montague as we are doing – optimizing staffing and services – we will improve access to primary care for patients, improve patient flow in the emergency department, and better support physicians and staff so they do not burn out.”
Health PEI and the Health Recruitment and Retention Secretariat will begin recruiting both locum and permanent emergency department physicians for Kings County Memorial Hospital this week.