Nova Scotia union report 'disrespectful': Health PEI

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Nova Scotia union report 'disrespectful': Health PEI

Health P.E.I. says it's been unfairly targeted by a public sector union in Nova Scotia.  

The Island's health agency said a report out this week by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU), which claims poor P.E.I. practices are contributing to overcrowding at the QEII hospital in Halifax, is inaccurate and "disrespectful."

"I'm disappointed [the union] didn't check out facts before they decided to put this out," said Tom Dorran, Health PEI's chief of emergency health services.

"I'm disappointed they're basing this on opinions, on hear say."

P.E.I. patients waiting for months, says union

In a section of the report, titled The P.E.I. Problem, the union said too often, Island patients getting specialized care at the QEII are left waiting at the hospital to be transported back to P.E.I., long after they've been medically discharged. 

"When they're actually mobile and actually able to be delivered back to a hospital in their home province, that doesn't happen in a timely manner," said Jason MacLean, NSGEU's president.

"In New Brunswick, within 24 hours that someone's deemed able to be transported, they are transported, but people from P.E.I. are normally held up here for upwards of a couple months, maybe even longer."

Health PEI disputes report findings

In the report, the union claims Health PEI's system of getting QEII patients back to the Island is flawed and inefficient. That assessment is based on interviews with some nurses and other staff at the hospital.

But Health PEI disputes that assessment, and the claim that discharged island patients are left waiting at the QEII for days on end. 

According to data provided to CBC by Health PEI, out of 159 Island patients admitted to the QEII between April 2016 and March 2017, just four remained at the hospital for more than two days after they were discharged. 

"Eighty-eight per cent of our admitted patients at the QEII are actually repatriated back within a 24 hour clock," explained Dorran. "The [Nova Scotia Health Authority] is happy with the speed at which we're getting patients back to the Island, so we've had no complaints from the health authority."

The union said in its report that there was "no readily available data on average wait times for P.E.I. patients after they have been medically cleared to leave the QEII."

Dorran said Health PEI would have happily provided that data, had it been asked. 

"My office, my out of province liaison nurses, were never contacted to provide any data," said Dorran. "Certainly no one's picked up a phone to ask me for the data."

Union calling for review 

For the union's part, it's standing by its report and the anecdotal evidence provided by some staff.  

"People in the system are either going to become defensive about this report, or they are going to become determined and work to end waits of 100 and more hours," the union said in a statement reacting to Health PEI's response. 

The union is calling on Health PEI and the Nova Scotia Health Authority to conduct a "review of the practice of repatriating patients to P.E.I."

Dorran said the Island's health agency regularly looks for ways to improve the system, but overall, he said, "we're happy with the speed at which we're getting patients back to the Island."

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