Horizon Health in New Brunswick says it has quickly created a new pilot project inside waiting rooms at the authority’s five regional hospital emergency departments.
A healthcare worker will now be stationed day and night to serve patients as they go through the triage process.
“In the past, we’ve had individuals monitoring our patients in the emergency departments, but it had been not on a consistent basis,” says Margaret Melanson, interim CEO for Horizon Health Network. “So this is new, in the sense that we have arranged for staff on a 24/7 basis to be available in all our regional emergency departments.”
That includes the Horizon regional hospitals in Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, Miramichi, and Waterville.
“To be available in our waiting rooms predominantly to monitor our patients, to ensure they have a care experience that is allowing them to feel as though they are understanding the next steps in their waiting period,” says Melanson. “Of course, this monitor would also have available a warm blanket, water, other sorts of things that they need to have available.”
The Horizon Health pilot project comes after a patient died in the waiting room at Fredericton’s Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital on July 13. Another person died in the emergency waiting room at Vitalité’s Edmundston Regional Hospital on July 24. Vitalité has not confirmed much about what happened and did not respond to CTV News’ request for comment on Wednesday.
“If someone can at least be there to answer questions, or provide a sense of how long the wait will be, I think that will be beneficial to some patients,” says New Brunswick Medical Society CEO Anthony Knight. “I think it’s an important step forward. It doesn’t change the fact that we have significant health/human resource challenges in the province and more needs to be done in that regard.”
“I think it’s good news that they found someone to make sure that whoever is in the emergency waiting room can be looked after and that things like what happened in Fredericton don’t happen again, but then my surprise was, well, where did they find all these people?” says New Brunswick Health Coalition co-chair Bernadette Landry. “If it doesn’t remove staff from other departments, other institutions, it’s great news.”
Melanson says licensed nurses and patient service workers have been introduced to the project.
“Also, during the summer period, we’ve had the availability of our nursing students,” she says. “So the availability of these three groups of individuals allowed us to very quickly implement this.”
Melanson adds that the future of the program will be determined based off feedback from patients and staff.
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