Public doesn't understand Health P.E.I.'s role: CEO

Mike Carson
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Wedge also spoke about Prince County Hospital being near the end of its 'design life'

Prince County Hospital

There is misunderstanding in the public over the roles Health P.E.I. and the provincial government play in health care, according to the Health P.E.I. board’s interim CEO Dr. Richard Wedge.

Wedge told members of the Summerside Rotary Club Tuesday that each has a specific role to play.

“The overall goal is to have a healthy population,” Wedge said. “You only have to do three things: You have to provide care, manage the health-care system and somebody has to pay for the health-care system.”

On P.E.I., health care is generally provided by physicians but that has been changing.

“The nurse practitioners, advance care nurses, our front-line nurses, our allied health professionals and even our housekeeping staff have a very important role to play in providing health care,” he said. “Health P.E.I.’s role is to manage the health-care system. P.E.I. government’s role is to pay for the health-care system.”

Wedge said each sector has its own responsibilities.

“The clinicians are responsible to their patients,” he said. “Health P.E.I. is responsible to the public, and government is responsible to the taxpayers... Obviously, these are the same people but they’re just wearing different hats at different times.”

Wedge said government faces a balancing act when it comes to funding health.

“Government has to decide how much money is going to be spent on health care? How much on education? How much to fix up roads? And they have to balance that with how much money they can expect from taxpayers.”

He said previous speakers at Rotary confused the responsibilities of Health P.E.I. and the province.

Health P.E.I. was blamed by one speaker for the proposed closure of two dialysis service centres on the Island, when in fact it was a decision of government. He said that decision was revisited and all dialysis services have been maintained.

Another speaker put the blame on the province for temporary closures of 24-hour emergency at Western Hospital.

“Health P.E.I.’s role is to manage the health-care system. P.E.I. government’s role is to pay for the health-care system.” Dr. Richard Wedge, Health P.E.I. interim CEO

Wedge said the closures of the Alberton hospital’s ER are the responsibility of Health P.E.I. He said the emergency department was closed because “we failed to find the positions to keep it open. So, both speakers were right, they were just confused as to who made what decision.”

Wedge also spoke about how the health-care system needs to adapt to the ever-changing needs of the public.

Prince County Hospital was designed in the late 1990s and “built for the time and projected for about 15 years. So it’s actually nearing the end of its design life at this point. Some of the assumptions that were made and the services that were provided are starting to separate from what it was designed for 15 years ago.”

He said the population of East Prince County has declined slightly, mostly through the loss of young people, so the mix of services offered by the hospital needs to be revisited.

“Ambulatory care was not expected to be as busy as it is now,” Wedge said. “The surgical floor is not quite as busy as it was. The emergency room department was designed for about 35,000 up to 40,000 visits (annually). It’s dropped off to about 25,000 as we have improved our primary care here in Summerside. So, a number of changes have occurred.”

Wedge said there are a number of possible solutions open to Health P.E.I. to meet the health care needs of the area.

One is a geriatric day hospital for treatment and sending patients home at the end of the day. Another is improving undergraduate education by using Prince County Hospital for students’ third and fourth years of study.

Others options include expanding ambulatory care and increasing the resources for ear, nose and throat surgery as well as urology.

Organizations: Health P.E.I. board, Summerside Rotary Club, Alberton hospital Prince County Hospital

Geographic location: East Prince, Summerside

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Recent comments

  • Addie
    February 07, 2013 - 08:49

    By his comments Dr Wedge provides ample evidence that he doesn't have a clue what he is talking about. Our health system is so overloaded with bureaucrats they have lost sight of their role. As an example, take a look at the number of nurse managers employed in our hospitals now compared to 15 years ago when hospitals were run with one administrator and a nurse manager for the entire operation. It ran smoothly because they knew what they were doing. Now your have managers in hospitals tripping over each other and spending time at meetings or away from the work site doing who knows what. Dr Wedge your 275 thousand salary would go a long way to easing the problem in our emergency room by freeing up enough money for a few nurses or better still nurse practitioners. ER docs don't want to work with them though so there is another problem that needs to be fixed.

  • Resident
    February 07, 2013 - 08:09

    The purpose of Health PEI, as I understand, is to outsource responsibility and work from PEI Ministry oh Health. This is a noble idea, since the ministry itself is packed up with incompetent appointees who have little to no experience in healthcare. Wheather Helth PEI meets the expectations and performs the work is a questionable matter. My advice to CEO, do not reinvent a wheel. There are plenty of similar to PEI areas, that has paid their way through already. Borrow their experience, policies and processes and apply them to PEI. Use existing best practices. Don't invent them. PEI Health Care budget is too small to finance any PEI-born innovation ideas.

  • Stew
    February 07, 2013 - 07:51

    I think by only having two main hospitals in the province is the only way we can survive. Stop pouring money into so called emergency services at the others. Studies on health outcomes all come to the same conclusion: you are doomed in a real emergency if you are treated at a small rural hospital. Your best chance of survival is to be transported by EMS to a larger central hospital. The small hospitals both east and west have to go. Millions of dollars, and many lives would be saved.

    • Medic
      February 08, 2013 - 15:02

      This would be alright, if there was a good EMS system on PEI. At our peak time we have LESS trucks on the road than Halifax on their non peak hours. Also take into consideration that there are usually two or three trucks off island doing transfers which are taken out of the system..... There is usually one truck being shared between Souris and Montague. Also there is usually only one truck in West Prince... We pay taxes too. Why is it that we get sub standard coverage (I've responded code 1 to a shortness of breath call.... and it took me 68 minutes to get to the person) and a monopolized system? There was a time when there were five ambulance services that were Island owned and operated. Now it is owned by an off Island corporation who only cares about profits. I am all for having ONE or maybe TWO main hospitals, IF there was adequate coverage.... Not having to wait over an hour to get a truck to East Point or Souris, then transporting the patient about one and a half hours to Charlottetown, all the while there is no truck between Montague and Souris as there used to be... Someone "important" is going to die someday and then you will see a fuss. There are many highly skilled and knowledgeable Medics serving PEI, but it usually isn't our skill which saves people, it is timely and prompt access to care.... Google the Golden Hour and the Platinum Fifteen and you could learn a lot on how outcomes are time dependent... Oh and FYI the fastest an ambu can travel on PEI is 110km/hr... Food for thought...

  • don
    February 07, 2013 - 05:46

    Dr. Richard Wedge,for the money you are taking from islanders in wages you should be able to explain health care. but the health pei and the minister does not know so whats the big deal. but it is simple dizzy and gang is screwing up.

  • SG
    February 06, 2013 - 22:00

    I don't care who is responsible. I care that who ever is responsible for a systematic, organized, expertly managed, efficient, Health Care System providing qualified, skilled, experienced, staff and specialists are experts in their fields. I don't care how old the PC Hospital is. I do care that the PC and Q.E. Hospitals have up to date equipment and treatment precedures. I do know that every patient of The Q.E. Cancer Treatment Centre has nothing but Praise and Commendations for their Oncologists, Radiologists, Radiation Techs, Surgeons, Nurses, Front Desk Staff, Clerks, Dieticians and Volunteers. Every Cancer Patient is treated like a Family Member. The Cancer Centre needs another Oncologist Now due to one Oncologist retiring. Islanders undergoing Cancer Treatment should not have to travel off Island due to our Centre needing another Oncologist! Especially given the expert, compassionate, First Rate, Care our Oncologists and Cancer Centre Staff at all levels provide. Islanders' Cancer Journey began by having to travel off Island for Treatment. Given Our First Rate Cancer Centres on PEI travelling off Island for Cancer Treatments is not where Cancer Patients' Future Journey should return. There must be an Oncologist some where that is willing to fill the position.

  • fedup
    February 06, 2013 - 20:15

    Why don't Islanders have their own Idle No More demonstration and amass a large group to protest the definate mismanagement of our tax dollars. Have enough people to actually influence a change and demand it as if you were a true sovereign citizen. Heads would roll in our political landscape, for the better of course.

  • islander
    February 06, 2013 - 19:08

    Who cares if there is a misunderstanding of the roles....both roles are a mess and both entities who are looking after these roles are responsible. Neither one of them have a good track record and seems like neither one of them have a solution or a plan to fix it.

  • Disgusted
    February 06, 2013 - 19:01

    RE, “Health P.E.I. was blamed by one speaker for the proposed closure of two dialysis service centres on the Island, when in fact it was a decision of government.” It is outrageous for anyone to play let’s pretend and say that Health PEI is not a part of the government. Ask yourself who pays their salary? They are a front organization put in place for the government to hide behind and deny responsibility. The public doesn't understand because the whole concept is not not based on fact nor honesty!

  • Rose Hicken
    February 06, 2013 - 18:36

    First Wes Sheridan told Islanders that it was too hard for us to get our heads around the HST now we are not bright enough to understand our health system. Good thing we have all these "brilliant" people to tell us how stupid we are or we might think that we know what is going on here on PEI.

      February 07, 2013 - 09:00

      Remember that report last week that said 50% of Islanders can't read or understand at a high school level?Can't fill out an emplyment form or can't find Europe on a map? Looks like it's in play again.

  • concernedislander
    February 06, 2013 - 17:50

    I for one believe the politicians off any colour know what too do ,its simple one main hospital in the middle off the province ,then there will be way more less dollars spend on alot off unessary hospitals but like most proper fixes islanders are dead against it even though its the only fix , the money saved would put some off the finest doctors all under one building no more travel off island and on the out skirts off chtown have local clinics for the miner things no overnight stays add 3 air medics too the main hospital i know some day soon its gonna happen so we might as well get use too it for the better off all islanders

  • The Observer from Stratford
    February 06, 2013 - 17:40

    A hospital built in the late 90's is nearing the end of it's design life?? Are you kidding me? Either the design in the 90's was very poor or this guy is just rationalising failure.

  • Ad Hoc
    February 06, 2013 - 17:04

    The new PCH opened in April of 2004.

  • Joe Blow
    February 06, 2013 - 16:57

    Health PEI doesn't have a role....its just some of Ghiz's friends and family sitting in a cushy job, getting grossly overpaid and not earning any of it!! Health PEI is one of the biggest crocks and biggest wastes of time and money any PEI government has every thought up!! They don't do anything to support Healthcare on PEI...they just constantly hinder healthcare. We could do without HealthPEI and IRAC too....both are just created entities to help give Ghiz's buddies bloated pay cheques.

  • Twenty Twenty Vision
    February 06, 2013 - 16:50

    I think most Islanders see Health PEI just fine - unnecessary bureaucracy sucking away our health budget.

  • johnny cash
    February 06, 2013 - 16:49

    STAN You have hit the nail right on the head,a health minister who is only good for photo ops and paycheck aside from that it's deniability for him. They did this so more friends get big pay checks and they escape blame. One question i have is,what does it cost us to maintain this so called health board per year? I am scared to see.

      February 07, 2013 - 09:06

      If you followed the financial report earlier, you would know that Health PEI costs the taxpayers $10 Million Dollars a year.

  • John Getson
    John Getson
    February 06, 2013 - 16:33

    "The emergency room department was designed for about 35,000 up to 40,000 visits (annually). It’s dropped off to about 25,000 as we have improved our primary care here in Summerside. So, a number of changes have occurred.” So why are wait times so long? "...Built for the time and projected for about 15 years. So it’s actually nearing the end of its design life at this point." Maybe we should switch to "tent" based health care if the design of the building is the deciding factor

      February 06, 2013 - 19:32

      Whatever the structure, make sure it has a revolving door.

      February 06, 2013 - 19:43

      I wish Dr. Wedge would expand on why a hospital built less than 15 years ago is now almost obsolete.Does he expect the community to build one every 15 years or is he just making a case to close the PCH and concentrate everything in Charlottetown? It seems to me that PCH is next on Health PEIs' hit list for closing hospitals east and west of Charlottetown.If I'm not mistaken, the QEH is older than the PCH.What gives here.

  • Stan
    February 06, 2013 - 16:32

    Let's be honest, the Liberals created Health PEI so they could say "It wasn't us who did that!" every time something bad happens in health care. Whether that's good public policy or bad public policy, it was a deliberate effort to take the politics and management of elected officials out of the Island's health care system. When Health PEI says to blame them, not the Liberals, we should really ask ourselves the larger question of whether we would rather have our politicians in charge or a small board of folks we can't fire every few years. We're Islanders, typically we enjoy being able to vote on people.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    February 06, 2013 - 16:22

    If the overall goal is to have a healthy population why isn't prevention of disease and general well being through nutrition and exercise the main focus.? Why is it that all most doctors do these days is push pills, medications and surgeries for the big pharmaceutical companies? Why aren't doctors fighting the government over cuts to health care? Is it really health care if you must wait for a year to get in to see a specialist? Why do we allow our precious health care dollars to be spent unwisely? Why do doctors on PEI feel like they have their hands tied? They want to help people but it must be very frustrating for them too, not just the patients, to run into walls and closed doors . I would not want to be a doctor.

  • cromwell
    February 06, 2013 - 16:17

    All I want to know is who is responsible for the recruitment and retention of family doctors? Whoever has this responsibility is doing a truly dreadful job. I assume that this failure rests entirely with Health PEI.

    February 06, 2013 - 16:06

    In other words, he doesn't know what the heck to do.We don't need lessons in budgeting 101 and in semantics, what we need is timely service.Why are wait times so long at PCH if usage is down to 62% of what it was designed to cover? Why are they hiring another surgeon when they want to close weekend surgeries and move to QEH? Why is their not one dermatoligist in the whole province? If Health PEIs' mandate is to provide health care and the governments role is to provide funding, why is the gov't meddling in the operational side in wanting to close dialysis operations at Western?