01/18/2013 07:56 EST | Updated 03/20/2013 05:12 EDT

ERs without doctors considered for P.E.I.

Health Minister Doug Currie travelled to Nova Scotia on Thursday for a look at a new model of health care that would provide overnight emergency care without a doctor being in the hospital.

Collaborative emergency centres were created in that province to address sporadic emergency room closures.

Staff at All Saints Hospital in Springhill were honest about some people's initial reaction to not having a doctor on site overnight during the tour on Thursday. Since April, the collaborative emergency centre has been staffed by paramedics and nurses from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and a doctor somewhere else in the province is available by phone.

That has freed up the doctors to do more hours in their regular practice, which has reduced wait times for appointments. Cumberland Health Authority CEO Bruce Quigley says that's made it easier to recruit new doctors.

"We can now give assurances to a new recruit that when they come to Cumberland County to work in one of these CECs that they can be home every night," said Quigley.

"They don't have to work another night in their professional career if they choose."

Currie said he went to Nova Scotia to look for options for emergencies in Alberton and Montague that have struggled over the past few years.

"It'll have to be costed out, but it's working here and people are gaining a lot of confidence in the model."

The tour included a visit to a CEC in Parsboro, and Currie said he likes what he saw.

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