NSHA operational update, Friday, March 27

 
 
For an overview of NSHA’s phased COVID-19 response plan, please see: http://www.nshealth.ca/sites/nshealth.ca/files/nshas_covid-19_planning_and_response.pdf 
 
Nova Scotia Health Authority continues to plan and prepare at an organizational level, across the province, for service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
As an organization, NSHA must adapt and respond to changing conditions and optimize the overall system’s ability to respond to the needs of Nova Scotia patients. This includes creating processes to quickly move patients and/or staff to different surgical centres if emergency surgery cannot go ahead in one hospital due to capacity issues.
 
At this time it is necessary to consolidate emergency services, optimizing the number and distribution of emergency departments in Nova Scotia.
 
NSHA is modifying the roles of collaborative emergency centres in Cumberland County to better align available resources with care needs. This will be done in the following ways, beginning Friday, March 27 at 8 a.m.:
  • All Saints Springhill Hospital’s emergency department will become an urgent care treatment centre. It will be open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m., seven days a week. Urgent treatment centres primarily treat injuries or illnesses requiring immediate care, but not serious enough to require an emergency department visit.
  • North Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Pugwash will serve the community as an urgent treatment centre. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, and will continue to operate as a collaborative emergency centre overnight.
  • South Cumberland Community Care Centre in Parrsboro will transition to a family medicine/general practice clinic. It will provide daytime primary care services to the residents of this community. This hospital will not provide emergency care overnight.
Regional hospitals in Amherst, Truro, and New Glasgow provide emergency care 24/7. Emergency Health Services (EHS) will divert ambulances to these emergency departments with the new model changes in Cumberland County. 
 
Emergency care in Nova Scotia is made up of many connected parts, including urgent and emergency departments. – They are designed to make sure Nova Scotians have access to emergency care and receive the care they need, when they need it.
 
Anyone unclear about the availability of services may always contact their local hospital. NSHA’s website provides a complete list of service changes and temporary closures.  
 
Those experiencing a medical emergency should always call 911. For non-emergency health advice from a registered nurse, please call 811. The provincial Mental Health Crisis Line also operates 24/7 at 1-888-429-8167.
 
 
Temporary closure of women’s and children’s unit at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre
  • The inpatient women’s and children’s unit at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre in Amherst is temporarily closed, including for any planned deliveries, until further notice. 
  • Pregnancy and delivery care will be provided in Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro or the Moncton Hospital in Moncton, New Brunswick depending on the patients’ home location.
  • In the event on an emergency or unplanned delivery, there will be family physician, obstetrician and nursing staff available in Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre to support pregnancy care. Prenatal care will continue to be provided by the hospital’s team.
  • This closure allows for the redeployment of the staff and physician to other work.
 
Temporary suspension of the Colon Cancer Prevention Program
  • As NSHA focuses its efforts on managing the COVID-19 pandemic, we are suspending the Colon Cancer Prevention Program until further notice. This means:
  • Home screening kits will not be mailed out.
  • Home screening kits already at the lab and those that are already in the mail will be processed and the results will be mailed to participants.
  • Participants who test positive for trace amounts of blood in the stool will not be contacted for an appointment until the screening program has restarted; screening nurses will, however, contact them to answer questions/ease their concerns.
  • All screening colonoscopies which are currently booked will be cancelled until further notice.
  • NSHA is contacting scheduled patients and clients directly to notify them of cancellations
  • Nova Scotians who have received but have not yet done the home screening test should wait until the screening program resumes operations.
  • Nova Scotians who have worrying symptoms of colon cancer will be directed to speak with their primary care provider.
 
Updated visitor restriction information pertaining to cancer patients
 
**In addition to the below information specific to cancer patients, strict visitor limits remain in place across all NSHA sites
 
Recognizing the fine balance between the real needs for emotional support and the implications of spreading COVID-19 in our treatment areas to vulnerable patients, the following visitor/companion policy will be is now in place.
 
Except under exceptional circumstances (e.g. mobility concerns, substitute decision maker in place, etc.) patients must attend appointments alone as per NSHA guidelines.
 
Inpatients
  • We are encouraging the family members of cancer patients to adhere to the no-visitor restriction. If a patient has unique physical, emotional or cognitive complexity we will make an exception and allow one visitor to be present. 
Treatment
  • We are not permitting companions in the treatment venues, as the physical layout makes social distancing difficult and the vast majority of patients are immunocompromised.
Ambulatory clinics
  • In keeping with cancer centres across Canada, the NSHA cancer care program will permit patients who are having their first appointment to bring one companion with them. 
  • We will also be giving the option to join in via phone/Facetime should companions not wish to enter the facility. For subsequent clinic visits, we are asking patients to respect the no visitor restriction but will make exceptions if the patient has unique physical, emotional or cognitive complexity impacting their ability to attend alone.
 
Need to Visit your Family Practice? What you need to know as a patient.
Having access to your family practice for your health care needs is important to all Nova Scotians. Right now, doctors and nurse practitioners are focused on providing safe access to care for immediate health concerns. Family practices are also offering appointments by phone or another virtual method.
 
 
What does that mean?
  • Many family practices and patients are deferring appointments for routine health care. Your family doctor or nurse practitioner will determine what appointments can wait. 
  • You are encouraged to self-monitor your health at home and self-manage your ongoing conditions to the best of your ability. 
  • You should continue to see your family practice for prenatal, newborn, and well-baby check-ups (vaccinations).
  • People who have recently been in hospital or treated in an emergency department should contact their doctor or nurse practitioner provider by phone.
  • If you have a fever or have a new/worsening cough, refer to the self-screening tool available at 811.novascotia.ca before calling 811.
 
What should you do if you need primary care?
  • Please call your family practice to make an appointment, rather than stopping by in-person. This is to protect against community spread. Your practice will provide specific information about appointment options, and the types of care currently being provided.
  •  You can also visit 811.novascotia.ca for information on more than 500 health topics.
  • Please only access care at your nearest emergency department if you need urgent care that cannot be treated by your family practice in a timely manner.
  • Call your pharmacy if you need a prescription renewed. Pharmacists can provide short-term renewals for most prescriptions, as well as provide health advice for common health concerns.
  • If you do not have a primary care provider, please add your name to the Need a Family Practice Registry online: needafamilypractice.nshealth.ca
  • Primary care providers who offer appointments for unattached patients may provide virtual care as an option.
 
Online Mental Health tools
NSHA Mental Health and Addictions Program is continuing to work on a series of online resources and tools to support people and families. Mindwell U is now available across Nova Scotia. Mindwell U is a free online program that takes just five minutes a day, and can be accessed anywhere and on any device.
 
This self-guided program challenges you to take five minutes out of your day to learn the basics in mindfulness; the practice of paying attention to thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations in the present moment through a gentle and nurturing lens. Each day you will complete a “Take 5” session during which you learn new mindfulness skills to improve your mental health.
 
This practice lowers stress and increases resilience. The Challenge also teaches ‘mindfulness-in-action’ so you don’t have to stop what you are doing to become calmer, present and more focused.
 
To access this program please visit: https://app.mindwellu.com/novascotia  
 
Earlier this week, Mental Health and Addictions Program launched ICAN (Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness) – Anxiety Program (18+ years of age) free of charge for people looking for help for anxiety and depression. The interactions are private and confidential and the program is offered through the Strongest Families Institute.
 
Strongest Families Institute is a charity that provides proven services to adults and families seeking help for mental health and other issues impacting health and well-being. We provide timely care by teaching skills through our unique distance coaching approach – supporting clients over the phone and Internet in the comfort and privacy of their own home. Strongest Families provides client-centered care that is customized to their needs. 
 
 
 
Assessment Centres
COVID-19 Assessment Centres are now operating in 20 locations around Nova Scotia. Some have shifted location from their original sites. Up to date location information is available here http://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirus. Do not attend an assessment centre without having been directed to do so by 811. 
 
 
COVID-19 misinformation
There are situations where misinformation about COVID-19 cases is being shared in communities and to businesses; we are also aware of fraudulent calls from people claiming to be Public Health and asking for credit card/financial information. 
 
As needed, Public Health will provide notification of potential exposures to COVID-19 with individuals, businesses, organizations or communities. This will range from direct outreach to people who may have been exposed and organizations where exposure may have occurred and, if warranted, broader public communication.
 
When Public Health calls people to discuss COVID-19 test results or to follow-up through our investigations, financial information is NEVER requested. If you receive a call like this asking for financial information, please do not provide your financial or personal information.
 
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Media Contact:
Provincial media line: 1-844-483-3344