Matthews announces increased funding for emergency services
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
On the same day Deb Matthews faced protestors on the front lawn on her constituency office, she was at University Hospital to announce over $2 million in funding to improve access to emergency health care services.
On Friday (Sept. 21), Matthews joined Bonnie Adamson, president and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre, Neil Roberts, chief of Middlesex-London Emergency Medical Services and others in making a variety of announcements.
Matthews, MPP for London North Centre and the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, announced a $1.27 million annual investment to provide for expansion of hours at St. Joseph’s Urgent Care Centre.
In addition, Matthews unveiled $665,000 to expand the hours of ambulance off-load nurses. The function of an ambulance off-load nurse is to move people from the ambulance, into the hospital care, as smoothly as possible.
The increase of funding for the off-load nurses will increase their hours to 16 from the current 12 while freeing up paramedics to continue delivering care.
“When I as a taxpayer see paramedics waiting in emergency departments, I think we aren’t getting the best value for the money we are spending. We need to do better,” Matthews said. “We need to reduce the length of time paramedics are waiting in emergency departments so they can get back on the road and respond to the people who need their expert care.”
Between the two emergency departments in the city, the investment in London-Middlesex, Matthews said, will see 11,600 hours of nursing care, 16 hours per day.
Adamson said that at the University Hospital emergency department alone, there are approximately 35 ambulance transfers per day.
“This dedicated funding is making a positive difference for patients and the community,” Adamson said. “And we are able to provide more timely assessment of patients when they arrive by ambulance at our emergency departments.”
Adamson said that since the start of this program over two years ago LHSC has been able to increase off-load nurse coverage and significantly reduce off-load delays.
Roberts thanked Matthews for the announcement and reinforced the importance of increasing the off-load hours.
“This is an important part of maintaining and strengthening emergency medical services within the City of London and the County of Middlesex,” Roberts said. “Your ongoing investment and increase in hours from 12 hours per site to 16 hours per site is certainly important for us. And more importantly, to get the paramedics back on the street as we are seeing an increase in demands for service.”
Matthews also praised the efforts of Dr. Kevin Smith, of Hamilton, who she charged to bring “fresh eyes” to an examination of emergency department and urgent care centre hours.
The funding for St. Joe’s will allow the centre to expand access to the urgent care centre for up to 12 hours on weekdays starting, Matthews estimated, early in 2013.
“There was a time they (St. Joe’s) were pulling back on hours; I wasn’t supportive of that direction,” Matthews said. “What we are doing is paving the way and St. Joseph’s will be able to move forward, the money is there, and St. Joseph’s will be able to have the staffing compliment it needs.”
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