A dozen patient medical homes are up and running or in the developing stages on P.E.I., though Health P.E.I. says they are not yet ready to take on new patients because they are already full practices.
The patient medical homes, which offer a wide range of care generally in one location, were touted as a way to alleviate pressure on P.E.I.’s health-care system. The province expects the collaborative approach to make it more attractive for doctors and health-care workers to practise on P.E.I.
While they have not yet made a dent in the list of Islanders without a primary health-care provider, which currently stands at about 30,000, the benefits are already showing, said Dr. Marc-Antoine Parent.
“Medical homes, in theory, is super, but, you know what, in practice it’s even better,” he said.
Parent had a solo practice in the Magdalen Islands, but moved to P.E.I. to work in a collaborative environment.
Parent works at the patient medical home at the Polyclinic Professional Centre in Charlottetown.
Others are located at the Sherwood Medical Centre, Kinlock Medical Centre in Stratford, Kensington Health Centre, Harbourside Health Centre in Summerside, Gulf Shore Health Centre in North Rustico, Alberton Health Centre, Tyne Valley Health Centre, O’Leary Health Centre and a multisite setup in the Cornwall-Crapaud area.
Central Queens Health Centre in Hunter River and another multisite patient medical home in Summerside are just getting started.
They all include at least one doctor and a team of health-care workers, such as nurses, physiotherapists and dieticians.
It’s voluntary for doctors and staff to join a patient medical home, but Health P.E.I. said in an email to CBC that “we are confident over time more and more will see the benefits of this model and wish to participate.”
Dietician Jean Baker said the model usually leads to faster referrals.
“Instead of the traditional referral process, we are able to talk to someone and go to another team member and ask for their support or help,” Baker said.
Patient Cindy Merritt was able to see the benefit when she went to see Parent about a health issue.
“I said, ‘Would physio help it?’ So he went and asked the physiotherapist and came back and said, ‘Yes, I have an appointment today.’ It’s great. You have all of the different professions in one spot, so they can feed off each other and help you, as well.”
Marley Gidding, a nurse practitioner at the Charlottetown polyclinic, said it’s more effective for patients and staff, and the workload is manageable.
She hopes they will be able to take patients from the registry as soon as they have capacity.
“I truly think that we’ll be able to help with the registry and get people supported instead of putting out fires when some crisis happens and that’s the whole goal — we follow you for life and less catastrophic things happen because we give you full care.”