PEI

Health minister floats walk-in clinics as emergency closure solution

Health Minister Robert Mitchell suggested in the legislature Wednesday more walk-in clinics in eastern P.E.I. could ease pressure on the emergency department at Kings County Memorial Hospital, which continues to have unscheduled closures.

Emergency in Montague closed Thursday

Nurse practitioners could help out in walk-in clinics, says Robert Mitchell. (Province of P.E.I.)

Health Minister Robert Mitchell suggested in the legislature Wednesday more walk-in clinics in eastern P.E.I. could ease pressure on the emergency department at Kings County Memorial Hospital, which continues to have unscheduled closures.

The department is scheduled to be open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., but is closed all day Thursday due to a shortage of doctors.

In January, the province announced new doctors for Kings County, and there were hopes that would mean fewer closures.

Mitchell's suggestion came in response to a question from Opposition leader James Aylward about limited walk-in clinics in Kings County.

"It's probably time Mr. Speaker that we should take a very firm look in that area of walk-in clinics. I think they provide a very vital service in other areas; in Charlottetown and Summerside and other areas," he said.

"We can work with doctors to see if that's something that they would be interested in working on. We know we are going to fall short in our ER a little bit later this week. And we're looking at all options to keep that ER open and sustainable and functioning."

James Aylward wanted to know why there were so few walk-in clinics in Kings County. (Province of P.E.I.)

Mitchell said the province is at full complement of doctors in that area, but said there are still challenges sometimes when doctors need time off.

Mitchell said nurse practitioners could also work walk-in clinics, adding a new nurse practitioner is going to the Kings County area. Health PEI suggests walk-in clinics for less urgent care needs.

The emergency in Montague will re-open for its regular schedule on Friday, at 8 a.m.

More  P.E.I. news

With files from Krystalle Ramlakhan

now