The Dryden Observer

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Family Health Team extends hours to ease pressure on DRHC emergency room

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

The Dryden Area Family Health Team is taking on longer hours to alleviate pressure on the hospital’s emergency department.

Dieticians, registered therapists and registered nurses (RNs) will be expanding services from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays while its nearly two-decade-old Dryden Diabetes Centre will hold their doors open until 8 p.m. on Mondays.

“The reason we’re open is because we’ve heard the community. We know caregivers struggle with getting their elderly parents in or parents struggle getting their children in,” said health team director, Katherine Campbell. “We also know that consistent primary care will improve the health status and is a more effective way of managing our conditions.”

In 2007, the province altered regulations on RNs, allowing them to perform more services in primary care. Along with electronic health records, Campbell sees the expanded skill set providing an opportunity for health system integration while increasing the availability of care.

“They were able to do it before but now that they can provide more primary care, their expanded scope has increased what they’re able to do. The NPs are accessible by calling the family health team and we’re striving to the best of our ability to do same day/next day access. We’re going to do our best to get you an appointment in the time frame you need an appointment.”

Dryden Hosptial CEO Wade Petranik praised the move, calling the hours from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. “a high spot” for emergency room traffic.

“I think there’s a lot of patients that, for whatever reason — it might be family, economic or employment issues – that they can’t get away for an appointment during the day,” he reflected. “This is obviously going to be another option for them, rather than coming to emergency for their primary care.”

Considering the latest quarterly figures, Dryden’s wait times fall within provincial and regional targets. Ninety per cent of minor and uncomplicated patients not requiring admission had a 3.3-hour stay and 90 per cent of complex patients not requiring admission had a 5.9-hour stay.

Petranik expressed the hospital is still struggling with admitted patients at 9.4 hours where the province is looking for eight-hour stays but he added the local situation is far better than the provincial average, which is nearly triple that of the Dryden emergency room.

“It’s appropriate care in our organization because quite often, the emergency doctor is doing some tests like cardiac tests that might take several hours to run,” he said. “They’ll wait to consult with a family doctor to see if it’s an appropriate admission or something that needs to be followed up on.”

 By Jon Thompson

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