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April 25, 2012
For immediate release
Minister outlines Health Care future
Health and Wellness
The Government of Prince Edward Island will invest $1.7 billion into health care over the next three years while holding annual growth in health expenditures to 4.1 per cent this year and 3.5 per cent in the following two years, says Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie.
“Since the day this government was elected, health care has been one of our top priorities. We set out on a course three years ago to transform the system and we have made great strides,” said Currie. “But today’s fiscal reality and our province’s aging population and high incidence of chronic disease has placed tremendous pressure on the system. Innovation and efficiency must be considered in every decision. Health care growth and spending has to be contained.”
Health expenditures have increased by an average of 6.4 per cent each year since 2007, much higher than provincial revenue or economic growth.
As outlined in the Speech from the Throne, government is adding 76 long-term care beds, undertaking a complete review of Mental Health and Addictions services in the province, implementing a province-wide Wellness Strategy and moving forward with fair generic drug pricing legislation for Islanders.
In order to continue to provide a quality driven, sustainable health care system, the province will consolidate provincial hemodialysis sites from four to two – at Prince County and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals – while expanding capacity and the number of seats.
The province is moving to a public model for children’s dental health services. Coverage will be limited to families who do not have private health insurance. Coverage will continue to be income-based.
The province will be adding nominal ambulance user fees for seniors. Because of the duplication of services with the province’s new Tyne Valley Health Centre, Stewart Memorial Hospital will no longer offer outpatient services. The Emergency Department at Kings County Memorial Hospital will operate at the current reduced hours, permanently.
“Because of our small size and single health authority, solutions can be rolled out with standards and processes in Prince Edward Island,” said Health PEI CEO Keith Dewar. “We are in a strong position to deliver integrated, safer care for Islanders.”
In the coming months, Minister Currie will be calling for a discussion with Islanders, with health professionals, educators and community health organizations.
“Before making any more changes, I will be traveling the Island, tip-to-tip, to talk to Islanders about their health care system,” said the minister. “I am calling on all Islanders to take charge of our health, and to be part of the solutions that will ensure our excellent health care system is a reality for future generations. Our healthcare system will be as sustainable as we make it,” Currie said.
For more information, visit www.gov.pe.ca/health.
Dialysis Site Consolidation
The number of hemodialysis patients in Prince Edward Island has grown by 75 per cent in the past three years. With increasing rates of diabetes and heart disease which are two risk factors for kidney failure, demand for dialysis will continue to increase. Currently, 79 individuals receive hemodialysis treatment at the four hemodialysis clinics in the province.
Effective October 1, 2012, the four hemodialysis clinics will be consolidated into two clinics at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and Prince County Hospital (PCH). The four existing seats at Western Hospital will be moved to PCH and the five seats at Souris will move to QEH. The new hemodialysis unit at PCH, which opened in April 2012, has a capacity to serve 54 patients, more than doubling current capacity at 125 per cent. A new hemodialysis unit co-located at the new Ambulatory Care Centre at the QEH will open later this spring. It will be able to serve 84 patients, a 133 per cent increase over the current capacity. An extra five new seats will be added and allocated between the two sites depending on demand.
Children’s Dental Coverage
The province is moving to a public model where public dentists will provide all basic diagnostic and treatment services at dental public health clinics in Charlottetown and Summerside. The program will use the payer-of-last-resort payment model, providing coverage to two-parent families without private insurance that make less than $35,000 annually and to one-parent families that make less than $30,000. The registration fee will increase to $25 per child, up to a maximum of $45 per family.
High-risk children who are above the income threshold but without private insurance, will still be offered coverage for a registration fee of $100 per child.
Moving to an all-public model will make the children’s basic dental care program more cost-effective and sustainable for future generations of Island children.
Health PEI dental hygienists and assistants will continue to provide preventative care in schools and other sites.
Ambulance User Fees
Demand for ground ambulance services is steadily increasing.
Seniors aged 65 and over will now pay a $75 co-pay which represents a small fraction of the full cost of ground ambulance transport. The new fee will come into effect October 1, 2012.
Other provinces have needed to reintroduce ambulance user fees for seniors but, at $75, Prince Edward Island fees will be significantly less than the other Atlantic provinces.