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Parksville health centre unlikely to have emergency service

In the opinion of an executive medical director for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the new health centre in Parksville isn't likely to be home to emergency room service.

Dr. Robert Burns, executive medical director - population and community health, was asked outright by Qualicum Beach town councillors Monday night during a presentation, if emergency rooms are possible additions to the Oceanside Health Centre.

"It would be speculation," he said, "but it's unlikely, given the restraints, such as time between a smaller and larger facility. The best thing to do (in an emergency) is to get people the best, closest facility.

"It's not likely, in my personal opinion."

Be that as it may, Burns said the new health centre will still work to keep people healthier and out of emergency rooms all together. He said the centre will be an innovative health care delivery model, based on those used in Anchorage, Alaska and at Veterans Administration hospitals in the United States.

"We're creating a place for co-ordinated health care, enabling people to live at home longer," he explained, adding this will help reduce hospital and emergency room visits.

"This is something not just for people who attend the centre. It's for the community at large."

The centre's overall concept is to integrate many services involved in a patient's care - through the use of existing services and technology to help monitor their health.

As the facility grows, Burns said patients can receive more care, earlier and closer to home - perhaps preventing an escalation of any health problems.

Qualicum Beach councillor Scott Tanner asked Burns about treating workplace injuries, specifically about where a patient might be taken. Burns said VIHA is working with the BC Ambulance Service to create protocols on what the Oceanside Health Centre can handle - such as routine lacerations, broken bones, but not outright emergencies. When it comes to the seriousness of an injury, Burns added its will be left to the ambulance crews to make the call on where a patient is taken.

The Oceanside Health Centre is currently under construction in Parksville at the Trillium Lodge site off of Despard Avenue. The centre, expected to be open 15 hours a day, seven days a week, should be complete by late summer, 2013.

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