Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – October 13-20, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of October 13 - 20, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.​

Manitoba

  • While increasing wait times continue to put pressure on Manitoba’s healthcare system, doctors say very sick people are leaving the emergency room without being seen by a physician at all. More than one in every three patients who recently sought medical care at the emergency department of Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre ended up leaving without seeing a doctor, according to recent data supplied by Shared Health.
  • Premier Wab Kinew and his cabinet were sworn in on Wednesday. The following ministers assumed health-related duties:
    • Uzoma Asagwara (MLA for Union Station) – deputy premier, minister of health, seniors and long-term care;
    • Nahanni Fontaine (MLA for St. Johns) – minister of families, the minister responsible for accessibility, the minister responsible for gender equity;
    • Bernadette Smith (MLA for Point Douglas) – minister of housing, addictions and homelessness, and minister responsible for mental health;
  • Scott Sinclair, who was previously deputy minister of Health, adds to his role as deputy minister of health, seniors and long-term care.
  • The Premier has also established the Health Child Committee of Cabinet.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The Provincial Government continues to take steps to reimagine health care and ease demands on emergency departments in Newfoundland and Labrador. A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be issued this month for two urgent care centres that will service the northeast Avalon region. Two urgent care centres in the region will help increase access to care and allow residents in different parts of the metro St. John’s region to access care closer to home. The urgent care centres will help address wait times for non-emergent care in the region by providing an additional access point, which will help alleviate pressures in emergency rooms in the region.
  • A proposed amendment to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act, which would provide bereavement counselling services for surviving dependents after a workplace fatality, received a second reading in the House of Assembly today. If approved, this legislation will provide WorkplaceNL with the authority to pay for bereavement counselling services for surviving dependents following a workplace fatality that occurred on or after January 1, 2022. WorkplaceNL received various requests in 2022 for bereavement counselling sessions to be added to the support currently provided by WorkplaceNL for dependents of deceased workers.
  • A family care team now established in the Eastern Rural Zone is accepting patients. The team, located in Clarenville, is one of 14 teams increasing access to primary care in Newfoundland and Labrador. To date, 19 family care teams have been announced and the number of people rostered with family care teams has risen from approximately 28,000 people in March 2023 to more than 49,000 as of September 2023. In addition, the number of healthcare professionals employed with family care teams has grown from 100 in April to 196 in September.
  • A doctor who provides pediatric diabetes care says a new pilot project to support continuous glucose monitoring for Type 1 diabetes patients will change lives. Dr. Heather Power, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre, called the project “an important step” in providing diabetes care for children.

Nova Scotia

  • The government is taking action to expand the number of long-term care rooms and provide more seniors with the care they need, faster. Renovations are expected to begin in the coming weeks on the former Villa Acadienne long-term care home in Meteghan, Digby County, resulting in new single rooms for 47 more seniors.
  • It is now easier for Nova Scotians to get more information about how the government is improving healthcare. The new Action for Health website includes easy-to-access information about how to get care, the latest healthcare news and an improved data dashboard. The new dashboard presents data for the existing measures more interactively, allowing visitors to customize their search by year, quarter or specific data points in a user-friendly, mobile-friendly, accessible way.
  • The federal government announced on Friday it’s investing nearly $3 million in six medical and technology companies in Nova Scotia, money aimed at helping them expand their operations, enhance their products and create jobs. “I think there’s some great health tech, medical tech, medical device technology out here in Atlantic Canada,” said Alex Dunphy, co-founder and CEO at Adaptiiv Medical Technologies. “We’re doing our best to get that out into the market, into clinicians’ hands and on patients in the end.” 
  • Health administrative professionals have agreed to accept a new five-year contract that includes three years of retroactive increases. The deal was announced Friday after 77 percent of people who cast a ballot supported the offer. Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union president Sandra Mullen said getting a deal was a long time coming. Workers rejected a previous contract offer and voted to authorize a strike.
  • The Nova Scotia government is working toward allowing private mental health practitioners to provide publicly insured services and some professional representatives say that should be the beginning of further reforms. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Brian Comer tabled a bill last week intended to allow private practitioners — starting with psychologists, social workers and registered counselling therapists — to provide some services through the publicly funded healthcare system.
  • Having endured chemotherapy treatments and becoming physically and mentally exhausted, Rafah DiCostanzo knew she wanted to prevent other breast cancer patients from suffering the same fate. The MLA for Clayton Park West was diagnosed about six months ago. Since then, she learned that women with denser breasts are at higher risk for breast cancer and that supplementary screening can help detect cancer earlier.

New Brunswick

  • New Brunswickers with disabilities face soaring costs to make homes accessible. Bathurst-area couple discover renovation program falls short of actual expenses. Haley Flaro, executive director of Ability N.B., a registered charity that helps people with physical disabilities, said initiatives like the Homeowner Repair Program haven’t kept up with inflation and soaring construction costs.
  • New Brunswick reported two more COVID-19 deaths and a nearly 63 percent week-over-week jump in hospitalizations Tuesday, while an infectious diseases researcher says about one in 52 of us are currently infected with the virus. Intensive care unit admissions, COVID outbreaks and new confirmed cases also all increased during the first week of October, according to the province’s Respiratory Watch report. Two people aged 65 or older died from COVID between Oct. 1 and Oct. 7, the report shows.

Prince Edward Island

  • A recent report on the review of practices used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities identifies 17 recommendations to enhance care for residents. In February, the provincial government committed to forming a Long-Term Care COVID-19 External Review Panel to study the performance of Prince Edward Island’s public and private long-term care homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report highlights four areas directly related to the pandemic experience: 
    • Enhancing resident-centered care 
    • Strengthening infection prevention and control 
    • Workforce recovery and development
    • Improving the long-term resiliency of PEI’s LTC system (oversight and accountability).
  • Minister of Health and Wellness Mark McLane, in consultation with the Health PEI Board of Directors, announced the next steps in preparation for a smooth transition in leadership at Health PEI. Dr. Michael Gardam, current Chief Executive Officer for Health PEI, gave notice in July 2023 that he would be resigning his position effective March 31, 2024. To ensure a smooth transition of leadership, Minister McLane and Chair of the Board of Directors Diane Griffin have appointed Corinne Rowswell as Acting CEO effective January 1, 2024, until a permanent CEO is appointed. Rowswell is currently Health PEI’s Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Gardam has agreed to continue to work with Health PEI until March 29, 2024, in an advisory role to aid in the transition. 
  • Prince Edward Island could be one of the first provinces to offer at-home self-testing for human papillomavirus or HPV, according to the head of the obstetrics and gynecology department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. Dr. Krista Cassell said about 200 patients have tried the kits so far in a medical office setting, with the results cross-checked by a clinician. 

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