Health telephone number opens way for fewer hospital visits, shorter waits
The new telephone health information system launched this week on P.E.I. is an excellent idea. The rationale behind the 811 system is that residents can call at any time and speak to an experienced registered nurse who will provide information and help navigate the health care system.
If the same trend happens here as in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where the system been operational for several years, there should be more ‘appropriate’ visits to the emergency department. That will ease the wait times at hospital ERs and various clinics across the province. If people can get a question answered by a medical professional over the phone, it saves everyone a lot of time and worry.
Islanders with health concerns but who don’t have a family doctor, or are reluctant to go to the ER for a lengthy wait, will now get free advice on what to do. A registered nurse can also send you written information by email, fax or mail. Of course if you feel it’s an urgent matter, or an emergency situation, do the sensible thing and call 911.
Some people are uncomfortable asking a personal question directly to a doctor of nurse, but would be more willing to ask that question during a phone call.
The province is trying to save money where appropriate, partnering with Nova Scotia to offer 811. It will pay $200,000 this year and that could rise to between $400,000 and $500,000 every year after depending on the number of calls. Being cost efficient is a good thing, especially if lives are saved.
There will be skeptics but Islanders should give the system time before making any decisions. There are sure to be questions on the 811 system, especially the wait times before a caller gets a question answered and if the answer is satisfactory.
The province insists it is not shirking its responsibility for providing better health care and access, which ultimately must come from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals across the province.
Islanders should use the 811 system in the proper fashion, and not consider it a Dear Abby or Anne Landers advice or chat line.
Islanders support literacy
Once again, Islanders rallied for literacy in impressive fashion Wednesday. Over 150 volunteers at 33 locations across the province raised $13,500 in the annual Raise-a-Reader Day sponsored by The Guardian and The Journal Pioneer. All the money goes to support the P.E.I. Literacy Alliance, especially children’s projects such as family literacy day and summer tutoring for children across the province.
Raise-a-Reader has been fortunate with weather during its history on P.E.I. and it looked for a time that rain might dampen things Wednesday. Except for a few showers, volunteers escaped relatively unscathed after being in position before dawn at coffee shops, street corners and other locations from Tignish to Souris.
On numerous occasions, people were ready to say ‘no thanks’ while in a drive-thru for a morning coffee, but once they heard it was for literacy, especially children’s projects, reluctance turned quickly into eagerness to donate to the cause.
The most generous were often a mom or dad with children in the vehicle on the way to school. Many donors were those who could least afford to give that loonie, toonie, $5 or $10 bill. But they were willing to sacrifice once again for their children.
We extend a big thank you to all who donated and volunteered.