The Kings County Memorial Hospital and its Emergency Room (ER) are incredibly important to the community of Three Rivers and surrounding area.
Yesterday, I attended the Health PEI board meeting at Brudenell. I really appreciated hearing from the board and members of the community who came out to share their hopes for their community. Ensuring that the hospital and ER remain well staffed and open is a top priority that was shared by all present.
I was struck by a proposed solution to the ER staffing issues raised by one member of the community. She was a retired nurse who worked in ERs both here on PEI and across Canada. She mentioned how in other provinces you would often see Nurse Practitioners (NP) in ERs who would see patients that do not require a physician.
As our doctor shortage on PEI grows, more and more Islanders are being forced to go to the ER for non-emergency, but necessary, help. NPs could be a great option for these patients.
For example, a child with a painful earache or a senior who needs a prescription refill cannot get into a walk-in clinic. They need healthcare and have no options other than the ER. Presently, they stand to wait hours and hours in our ER waiting for a physician who is already overtaxed and running off their feet dealing with emergencies. This presents a perfect opportunity to use NPs in our ERs. They could see these patients ensuring that they don’t have to wait for hours and help lessen the stress on the emergency physicians.
NPs are trained to provide the types of services that could improve the health outcomes of Islanders and alleviate the immense pressure on our healthcare providers. Yet, for some reason, the King government does not allow them to give this important care. The only thing standing in their way, and the way of Islanders getting better care, is the Minister of Health and Wellness, Ernie Hudson, and Premier King.
I am calling on the Premier to allow Nurse Practitioners to practice to their full scope. I am also asking for an increase in funding to Health PEI to hire NPs for our ERs. By doing this, we can better support our emergency and specialty physicians while providing better care to Islanders and improving their health outcomes.
Michele Beaton, MLA Mermaid-Stratford
Official Opposition Green Critic for Health and Wellness