Pilot project offers primary care to high risk patients in Saint John
(SAINT JOHN) January 23, 2012 - High-risk patients in the Saint John area who are on the No Physician Patient Registry will be provided interim primary care by local physicians while they wait for a family physician.
The six-month pilot project, which is funded by the Department of Health, will allow the coordination of three local physicians operating out of the Urgent Care Centre atSt. Joseph's Hospital to provide care to patients most at risk. Eligible patients include people with multiple chronic illnesses; those who use blood thinners; and women requiring annual preventative health care such as a pap tests.
"I would like to express my appreciation to the Saint John area physicians and staff of the Horizon Health Network, who worked together to develop this pilot project that will support vulnerable patients while the work continues to find them appropriate access to a primary health care provider," said Health MinisterMadeleineDubé. "The Department of Health is pleased to support this effort as an interim measure to address the most pressing needs for access to primary care in theSaint Johnarea."
At the end of December, 367 patients have received care. Individuals on the No Patient Registry will be contacted in descending order beginning with those who are positioned at the top of the list. An initial screening will take place over the phone and if eligible for the service, an appointment will be made with a physician. The service will be by appointment only and provided from 1 - 4 p.m. Monday to Friday fromSt. Joseph's Hospital. Individuals who use blood thinners will be referred to anticoagulation clinics and women requiring preventative health care will be referred to Women's Health services located at other sites.
"We are pleased to offer this service, which will help provide patients at a higher risk with continuity of care and preventative care to reduce the risk of developing more serious health complications and possibly being hospitalized," said Donald J. Peters, President and CEO of Horizon Health Network. "It will also allow patients to be seen in a more appropriate setting than an emergency department or after-hours clinic."
Horizon continues to recruit for family physicians and is optimistic that several family physicians will be recruited within the next year. Newly recruited family physicians will take patients on the No Physician Registry list. There are currently approximately 7,850 individuals on the registry. Individuals without a family doctor in theSaint Johnarea can add themselves to the list by calling 648-6232.
The provincial government has stated its commitment to primary health care change as a way to increase access. The Primary Health Care Steering Committee will provide recommendations to government in early 2012 following a summit held last fall which brought together government policy and decision-makers, primary health care practitioners, health-care organizations, academics and community leaders.
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