Health minister visits Truro as part of ‘listening and learning' tour

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TRURO - One strong provincial health board and a new, modernized form of doctors making ‘house calls.'

Leo Glavine

Those are parts of the framework around a plan by Nova Scotia Health Minister Leo Glavine to revamp the province's health-care system to both reduce costs and duplication of services while also providing better, more efficient care to those who need it.

"We're really wanting to say more than anything, one provincial health-care system, that from one end of the province to the other is delivering high-quality care," Glavine told the Truro Daily News while taking a break from a tour of the Colchester East Hants Health Centre.

"So we really want to strengthen the system. Streamlining is part of that. There will be some admin savings but even more than anything, to even out some of the services right across the province and make sure that were delivering as a province."

Truro was the fifth stop along Glavine's "learning and listening" tour of the province's nine health authorities as part of his overall revamping of the system.

Along the way, the minister is meeting with health board members, senior leadership teams and community health boards to hear their views and to outline his plans for change.

The Liberal government has stated as one of its priorities to reduce the nine district health authorities to two and the IWK Health Centre to two authorities by 2015/16. The two authorities will be a board for the IWK with a provincial board made up of four regional management zones.

"Streamlining, and in many ways a very different version of looking at one provincial board," he said.

"Ours (goal) is to look at the full utilization of human resources, the physical facilities and especially to make primary health care in collaborative centres a real strength of the system."

For instance, Glavine said, the field of surgery "is a great example of where a provincial approach will allow for more to happen in such places as Truro and Amherst and other parts of the province, as opposed to having most major cases sent to the QEII.

And that may mean having doctors or other clinicians actually travelling to a given area to visit a patient, rather than patients travelling to see a surgeon.

"If we have high-quality care in Cape Breton, and a person doesn't have to cross the causeway, or somebody in Yarmouth doesn't have to come up through the Valley, that's a good day for high-quality patient care and it's a good day for our health-care system," he said.

"We actually need to funnel less (patients) into the QEII," Glavine said. "Now it is to get more work and more supportive orthopedic work in the other center ... farming it out for want of a better term."

Glavine said he would like to see good existing practices shared out across the province so that a "good system" can be built into one that "can be a model" for the rest of the country.

While the precise details are still in the planning stages, the new template will ultimately see reductions in top administrative positions, such as CEOs and some vice-presidents, he said, along with a "strong working board" that will move around Nova Scotia for its meetings, as opposed to being based in Halifax.

But whatever the end result, Glavine said, "we will not touch the front line health care."

Twitter: @tdnharry



Organizations: Truro Daily News, Colchester East Hants Health Centre, IWK Health Centre

Geographic location: Truro, Nova Scotia, Amherst Cape Breton Yarmouth Halifax

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