Health PEI is investing $254,000 annually to create three new frontline clinical positions in West Prince, Summerside and Charlottetown that will immediately improve access and health outcomes for Islanders, says Minister of Health and Wellness Robert Henderson.
“The provincial government is committed to increasing access to front line health services for Islanders,” said the minister. “The addition of these front line positions will allow for earlier diagnosis and care which will in turn, improve health outcomes.”
Health PEI is creating clinical health jobs in areas of the province where demand for services is exceeding what current staff complements can manage.
The three new permanent full-time allied health positions include a physiotherapist position at Prince County Hospital in Summerside, an occupational therapist position for community hospitals west in O’Leary and Alberton, and an MRI technologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. All three positions will increase the current staff complements in those areas.
“Our allied health care staff are important, highly skilled members of our health care team, delivering treatments to thousands of Islanders every day throughout the province,” said Dr. André Celliers, family physician and Medical Director for Health PEI – West. “It is important that we recognize and support areas of our health care system with growing demand to ensure that our patients continue to have better access to care. As a physician who refers patients to these services, I am pleased that patients accessing them and staff who deliver them will receive additional support soon.”
The physiotherapist service at Prince County Hospital supports patients who are admitted to hospital as well as those referred for therapy from the community. On average, eight new patients are referred to the hospital’s physiotherapy service every day, receiving an average of 11 hours of physiotherapy each. Last year, approximately 1,700 Islanders were referred from the community. The addition of a full-time physiotherapist position will increase the service’s complement from 6.45 full-time equivalent positions to 7.45.
The addition of a new full-time permanent occupational therapist to West Prince hospitals will mark the first time in recent years that patients at Community Hospital O’Leary and Western Hospital will have access to this service in the region. The occupational therapist will support patients being discharged from hospital, ensuring they can carry out important daily living and work skills. Having access to occupational therapy is expected to reduce some hospital re-admissions and in-patient length of stay. Currently, patients from West Prince travel to Prince County Hospital to access occupational therapy.
Increasing the current MRI technologist complement will contribute significantly to the Diagnostic Imaging service’s efforts to bring wait times for semi-urgent and non-urgent MRI referrals within national benchmarks. It is expected that the new MRI technologist will be able to perform 60 additional exams per week, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatments for patients. The complement will increase from two full-time equivalent positions to three. MRI exams are only performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Funding for all three positions is coming from within Health PEI’s operating budget. Positions are expected to be posted within the next few weeks.