Friday, 18 May 2012 07:25

Stabilization of emergency services seen as priority for Shaunavon Hospital discussions

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Stakeholders continue to have discussions regarding the current health care situation in Shaunavon, with the latest meeting occurring on May 11th. Municipal council representatives from the geographic area, Shaunavon and Gull Lake physicians, MLA Wayne Elhard, and Cypress Health officials joined in Shaunavon to further explore options for the sustainability of emergency services.

Several items addressed at the meeting included:
• Stabilization of emergency services provided at the Shaunavon Hospital and Care Centre – considered to be the highest priority at the current time, the participants were updated on the immediate plans for locum physician coverage. Starting in June, physicians from a Swift Current medical clinic and the Saskatchewan Medical Association Locum Program have been confirmed to provide relief on-call coverage for those days when Dr. Louwrens is not available.
• Longer term solutions for stabilization of emergency and health services in rural communities – it was discussed that exploring alternate models of health service delivery would be appropriate to look at as options for sustainability into the future. Examples of alternate options include primary health care models, collaborative emergency centres (implemented in Nova Scotia), and other best practices that already exist which reduce the reliance on any one specific health professional for ongoing service provision.
• Community consultation process and developing a community advisory committee – allowing for feedback and input from community members into the health needs of the community and which partners/organizations play a role in the overall health needs of the community. The involvement of several organizations and interest groups play a major role in the overall health of a community.
Cypress Health CEO Beth Vachon was pleased with the meeting discussions and the ability to update the participants on the locum physician coverage. “Due to the geographic area that the Shaunavon Hospital provides emergency outpatient services, the consistent provision of emergency services is a priority and many efforts are being directed towards making that happen,” said Vachon. “We are appreciative of Dr. Louwrens’ efforts and the other physicians who have agreed to provide locum assistance in order to maintain consistent physician on-call coverage in the short term.”
Mayor Sharon Dickie agreed that the emergency services sustainability was a key factor in the discussions. “A preliminary plan addressing future health care needs for the Shaunavon Hospital was presented and reviewed by municipal leaders, physicians and health officials,” commented Dickie. “But most importantly, the immediate need for 24/7 emergency coverage at our hospital is being addressed.
“Community engagement was identified as an important aspect for future planning and residents of the Southwest can be assured that they will be involved in decision- making,” added Dickie. “We need to come together and strengthen the delivery of quality health care in our communities.”
MLA Wayne Elhard had originally requested the collective discussions amongst the participants and he expressed his optimism for continued progress. “Together with a proposed plan and timeline for implementation as presented by the health region and the involvement of area communities in the discussions, there was consensus in moving forward together to find workable solutions,” said Elhard. “We recognize there are short term and long term issues that need to be addressed, and including a level of community participation will be required to reach the best results.”
The next meeting of the group will be held in early June.

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor

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