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Virtual Care: Nova Scotia Nurses Union says additional support still needed


Nova Scotians were able to access health care virtually on a weekend. This is the latest move from the province in order to deal with increasing pressures that hospitals have been experiencing.

“We have 20 providers who are working today to offer access to care for Nova Scotians and we’re planning to offer that the next eight weekends. We’re also looking at other alternatives so that we can work with the demand,” said Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice-President and Chief Nurse Executive at Nova Scotia Health.

Nova Scotia Health plans on expending the program over time to other health providers including pharmacists.

People can create an account on Maple and use the service for free. While this is an essential service, some are concerned with a private company being responsible for it.

“Why would we want the income to be going into a private corporation when it could go back into our system,” said Martha Paynter, RN and Assistant Professor at University of New Brunswick.

Virtual health care is not all we’re seeing. Yesterday, a pop-up clinic in Dartmouth provided non-urgent health care by a either a doctor or a nurse practitioner. Another pop-up clinic will open in Tatamagouche in Mid-January.

While the service alleviates burdens of the health care system, the President of the Nova Scotia Nurse’s Union, Janet Hazelton, said nurses and other health care workers are taking on too many roles as it is. “We need to be making sure that we utilize nurses and other health care professionals to do the jobs that they’re educated to do,” she said, “Even if that means opening up positions that cover clerical work or other duties that nurses are currently doing.”

Pressures on the health care system are being felt by many other health care providers. In a leaked email to staff at the Dartmouth General Hospital, managers said pressures were at a point where there’s no space to assess patients, forcing one-in-ten to leave without being seen. It also suggested people are dying in waiting rooms, however, Nova Scotia Health disputes that.

In a statement, spokesperson Brendan Elliott said, “We wish to clarify that no one passed away Dartmouth General waiting room. The pressures on hospitals, and especially emergency rooms, across Canada have been widely reported. This message outlined strategies being used, or considered, to manage patient care at this site given the pressures.”

Nova Scotia Health said it’s determined to find solutions to east the burdens of the health care system. Until then, it will run trials to see what works and what doesn’t. Top Stories

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