Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – September 25-29, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of September 25-29. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.

Manitoba

  • More Manitoban seniors can look forward to accessible housing options in their communities as the Manitoba government advances to the planning stages for new personal care homes, Seniors and Long-term Care Minister Scott Johnston announced here today. In recent years, the Manitoba government has opened new personal care homes in Carman, Niverville and Steinbach. The minister noted these locations have been recognized for their design and innovation, and are studied by other jurisdictions for the way they are successfully redefining personal care home beds by making them feel more like home, with access to a continuum of care.
  • The Manitoba government is committing $510,000 annually for the operating costs of a new specialized MRI at CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) to provide Manitobans with the best available evidence-based clinical care radiation treatment, Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced yesterday. The specialized MRI unit provides enhanced imaging for cancer treatment planning and monitoring purposes and allows for improved accuracy in identifying tumor boundaries. Its advanced techniques allow for the customization of a patient’s cancer treatment, and configuration to potentially characterize cancer growth and track aggressiveness.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is today announcing a call for applications for Family Practice Programs. The Family Practice Start-Up Program will provide $150,000, the highest incentive offered in Atlantic Canada, to new family practice physicians who open a family practice clinic, or join an existing family practice in the community, in return for a five-year service commitment. Family physicians working less than full-time may be eligible for pro-rated funding. Additionally, the New Family Physician Income Guarantee provides new fee-for-service family physicians who open a new family practice or join an established family practice with a guaranteed minimum income over their first two years of practice. The programs are available to new family physicians who will be practicing in Newfoundland and Labrador, including:
    • Physicians entering a fee-for-service family practice for the first time.
    • Physicians practicing family medicine in another province who intend to relocate to Newfoundland and Labrador to practice fee-for-service family medicine.
  • In its ongoing efforts to reduce administrative burdens for physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador, support province-wide patient-care coordination and facilitate the introduction of a blended capitation model, the Department of Health and Community Services has eliminated an operational fee for its Electronic Medical Record program. The program, eDOCSNL, serves health care providers across the province, particularly primary care providers, by:
    • Improving information sharing between physicians and other health care providers;
    • Allowing physicians to improve clinical efficiencies;
    • Improving the overall quality of care;
    • Replacing community-based paper practices with electronic; and
    • Delivering health information to inform future health planning and policy development.
  • Four months after Newfoundland and Labrador’s Health Department announced it would soon publish a roundup report on the provincial mental health plan Towards Recovery, that evaluation is yet to be released. It’s a delay both the official opposition and a mental health advocate criticize. “I want to know where it is,” said Kristi Allan, who pushes for better mental health and addiction services in the province. “On March 10, 2023, the government said that it was coming in a few weeks. It’s still not out. Is it because it’s summer? Is it because they’re not paying attention to it? It’s extremely frustrating.”
  • Local leaders in the Whitbourne area say they’re glad some healthcare services are being provided, but believe urgent care coverage is uneven and should be improved. The emergency room at the Dr. William H. Newhook Health Centre in Whitbourne has been closed for more than a year due to a shortage of doctors, but officials opened an urgent care clinic 3 ½ months ago. It was set up to operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, but Whitbourne Mayor Hilda Whelan says in reality the schedule is widely inconsistent.

Nova Scotia

  • The Province and Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) are partnering to move forward with a new, licensed long-term care facility in Dartmouth. An arrangement between the Province and HRM will allow the project to proceed under current municipal zoning it so it can be built sooner. The facility will be owned and operated by Northwood and built on land leased from Akoma Holdings Incorporated. The facility will provide 96 long-term care rooms near the historic African Nova Scotian communities of Cherry Brook, Lake Loon, North Preston and East Preston. Akoma will establish an Africentric advisory committee, involving Northwood and community members, to advise on the development of programs and services within the facility.
  • The province’s largest-ever medical residency class started providing care to Nova Scotians this weekend. Including subspecialties and fellowships, a record 233 resident doctors began their training Saturday, July 1. Of those, 77 are Dalhousie medical school graduates, also a record. Last fall, the Province announced funding to add 10 family medicine residency spots at Dalhousie University’s School of medicine. In addition, 10 more of the available residency spots were designated for international medical graduates with a Nova Scotia connection. Every residency seat has been filled this year.
  • Researchers from Nova Scotia Health are poring over local cancer data as part of a new study, with the aim of providing evidence the province can use to tailor cancer prevention measures for different communities. The Nova Scotia Community Cancer Matrix study analyzes the risk of 22 different types of cancer in 301 communities. Lead researcher Nathalie Saint-Jacques said this is the first research project in Atlantic Canada that looks at cancer data at such a local level.

New Brunswick

  • The closure of the detox centre in Moncton comes as New Brunswick records its deadliest overdose year to date. Horizon Health has stopped in-patient addiction services at the centre on Mapleton Road because of a lack of nursing staff. The 10-bed centre treated an average of seven to 10 clients at any given time. Debby Warren, the executive director of the non-profit group Ensemble Moncton, said this couldn’t have come at a worse time. The city and province are in the midst of an addiction crisis. “Every four days we lose a New Brunswickers to substance use. And they’re becoming younger,” she said.
  • The New Brunswick Health Council says the province is making a dent in the hip and knee replacement waitlist, but still lags behind national benchmarks. Pointing to hip surgeries, for example, council CEO Stephane Robichaud said that in the first quarter of this year, 415 orthopaedic surgeries were done — compared with 180 last year during the same period.
  • The new chair of Vitalité Health Network says he expects the new, smaller, all-appointed boards of the two regional health authorities will be able to make faster reforms than the old, larger, partially-elected ones could. Tom Soucy says his comments are not based on anything personal about former or new members of Vitalité or Horizon, but rather from his experience with several private and public boards of directors.
  • The boards of the province’s two regional health authorities were announced this week by Health Minister Bruce Fitch. Tom Soucy has been named chair of the Vitalité Health Network. Carol Reimer has been named chair of the Horizon Health Network. Soucy is president and CEO of Groupe Westco. Reimer is a registered nurse and independent healthcare consultant. Suzanne Johnston and Gérald Richard, who have served as the trustees of the Horizon and Vitalité health authorities, respectively, since July 2022, and as co-chairs of the provincial health plan implementation committee since November 2021, conclude their terms today.

Prince Edward Island

  • Health PEI Organized Stroke Care Program has been awarded Stroke Distinction from Accreditation Canada. Stroke Distinction is a highly specialized quality improvement program for organizations that offer acute and/or inpatient rehabilitation services with a dedicated stroke program or unit. The program also examines the coordination and integration of stroke services across organizations /health authorities.  PEI is the only group as a province to be awarded Stroke Distinction.
  • The emergency department at Western Hospital in Alberton will close early Friday, and remain closed through the weekend. The department will be closed due to a lack of staffing, Health P.E.I. said in a news release Friday morning. It will close at 4 p.m. Friday and not open Saturday or Sunday. That will bring the number of days the emergency department has been affected by closures to 15, including nine full-day closures. The department will return to its regular hours, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., on Monday.
  • A physician in Western P.E.I. says closing O’Leary’s emergency department has given hospital staff the freedom they need to provide a host of new services for the region. Dr. Gil Grimes, a family doctor at Community Hospital O’Leary, admits it’s not what he would have predicted back in 2008. That’s when provincial government officials removed emergency and outpatient services at the hospital, centralizing those services at the nearby Western Hospital in Alberton. 
  • Summerside’s Prince County Hospital has gone almost two months now without an intensive care unit — and so far, the medical impact appears to be minimal. Dr. Michael Gardam, the CEO of Health P.E.I., said fewer than two patients a week on average have been transferred from Summerside to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. In the last three weeks, there have been no transfers at all.

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