The new collaborative emergency centre in western P.E.I. could open early, said the head of Health PEI.

The target date is Oct. 1 for Western Hospital in Alberton to make the switch, but it could open as early as the first week of September, said Dr. Richard Wedge, CEO of Health PEI.

The centre can open once staff is hired, training takes place and unions are notified, said Wedge.

He expects that will take around 12 weeks. 

"We would like to be able to do it sooner and there is a possibility it could occur sooner. But we only want to open the collaborative emergency centre if it's safe to do so for the public because they're going to expect a certain level of service once this is open," said Wedge.

In a collaborative emergency centre, the emergency room does not have a doctor working on site overnight. Instead, health professionals handle cases with access to an ER doctor by telephone.

The new staffing model will comprise a registered nurse and a paramedic, said a press release from the province.

The doctors who will be consulted by phone will not be in the West Prince area.