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Hundreds of staff, $100 million needed to start turning around P.E.I. health care


Prince Edward Island's health authority offered a stark assessment of the state of the province's health-care system during a health committee between senior health officials on Friday.

What was ostensibly to be a report on medical homes, a new type of health-care delivery focused on mixed teams working with a doctor rather than on referral, quickly became an extended Q&A session on the challenges facing health-care delivery on the island.

“Probably 95 per cent of the problems that you hear about Health PEI relate to staffing. It’s really that simple,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, the CEO of Health PEI. “Staffing causes burnout, when you don’t have enough staff, people are doing too many overtime shifts, and all of this is perpetuated because we can’t hire enough people.”

Gardam said there are hundreds of health-care positions that need to be filled, including more than 20 family doctors and 10 emergency department doctors.

He said it's the same story across the country.

“Wherever anybody challenged Canadian health care, somebody would stand up and say, ‘We have best health-care system in the world.’ We don’t. We have one of the worst performing health-care systems of any developed country, anywhere,” said Gardam.

He said, by almost any metric, Canadian health care ranks near the bottom.

Gardam said it’ll cost around another $100 million a year to start turning health care around for Islanders. That’s a budget increase of about 13 per cent.

The health authority is also calling for greater flexibility to hire when health-care professionals are available, not restricted to slow budgetary requests.

“So, if you’ve got somebody who’s waiting to be hired, or ready to be hired, we want to hire them,” said Corinne Rowswell, Health PEI chief operations officer. “Even if there isn’t a permanent position.”

Altogether, they’re calling for a fundamental change in how health care is delivered on P.E.I.

“The model of care for primary care hasn’t changed ever, as far as I know,” said Dr. Kathie McNally, Health PEI chief medical officer. “It’s been the same model of care for the last hundred years.”

During the committee on Friday, health officials said that health care on P.E.I., and across the country, is out of date and broken. They added that if something doesn't change soon, it's possible places will lose even more of the essential health-care workers that keep the system going. Top Stories

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