03/19/2013 03:58 EDT | Updated 05/19/2013 05:12 EDT

P.E.I. to work with Nova Scotia to introduce new helpline, emergency centre

CHARLOTTETOWN - Health officials in P.E.I. will work with their counterparts in Nova Scotia to introduce two new services to the Island's health-care system.

P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie said Tuesday the provincial government will implement a health-care helpline across the Island and open a so-called collaborative emergency centre in Alberton.

Both services are currently offered in Nova Scotia.

"The mix of services currently provided at our hospital facilities has not kept pace with the changing needs of our population," Currie said in a statement.

"Improvements are necessary to ensure that Islanders have access to the services they require, when they need them most."

Currie said the collaborative emergency centre at Western Hospital will be similar to the model used at six locations in Nova Scotia.

The purpose of the centres is to keep emergency rooms staffed through the night, seven days a week.

Nova Scotia Health Minister David Wilson said in a statement that the Saskatchewan government is also studying whether the model would work in that province.

He said P.E.I. will pay to join Nova Scotia's helpline service, which offers free, non-emergency health information from a registered nurse 24 hours a day to people who dial 811.

"We're proud of 811 and it speaks to the reputation of our service that P.E.I. wants to partner with us," said Wilson.