Academic Funding Plan to support emergency room staffing in Saint John (10/01/08)

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Jan. 8, 2010

SAINT JOHN (CNB) - An innovative funding plan was officially signed today to support the recruitment and retention of emergency department physicians at the Saint John Regional Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital.

The Department of Health; Horizon Health Network; physicians at the Saint John Regional Hospital emergency department and at St. Joseph's Hospital; and Dalhousie University have collaborated to develop the Academic Funding Plan (APF).

"As a government, we strive to ensure residents have opportunities to obtain high-quality health-care services," said Health Minister Mary Schryer. "The Academic Funding Plan will support ongoing recruitment and retention efforts to ensure appropriate emergency department staffing within Greater Saint John."

The AFP will provide funding for clinical care, medical education and administrative tasks preformed by emergency department physicians working at the Saint John Regional Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital.

The Department of Health is investing $7.9 million, which includes the $190-per-hour provincial rate for emergency room physician coverage.

"I commend our emergency department physicians for the dedication and commitment they have shown to helping us maintain the high quality of care we offer our patients," said Donald J. Peters, president and chief executive officer, Horizon Health Network. "The signing of this plan represents a major milestone."

Having skilled emergency department personnel is considered critical to support the Saint John Regional Hospital's designation as a Level 1 trauma centre, the province's highest trauma designation.

The provincial government is investing $37.5 million to modernize and expand the Saint John Regional Hospital's emergency department, which is expected to be completed in January 2011.

Dr. Édouard Hendriks, vice-president of medical affairs for Horizon Health Network, said that the agreement has been a tremendous help in retention and recruitment efforts.

"The AFP provides physicians with the resources they need to integrate their roles in patient care, research and medical education, which enhance the level of care we offer," said Hendriks, adding that the AFP will contribute positively to the recruitment of physicians in the emergency department.

The provincial government has also collaborated with Dalhousie University to establish a distributed medical education program in Saint John.

To support the program, which will accept its first students in September 2010, the provincial government is investing $3.1 million to develop new clinical teaching space and laboratories at the Saint John Regional Hospital.

"Dalhousie University is pleased to be a partner in the Academic Funding Plan, which will ensure continued ability to provide medical education in emergency medicine at the pre- and post-doctoral levels," said Dr. John Steeves, associate dean of Dalhousie University's medical education program in New Brunswick.


MEDIA CONTACTS: Sonya Gilks, Department of Health, 506-444-3506; Lisa Caissie, Horizon Health Network, 506-648-7916; Mary McIntosh, Dalhousie University, 506-651-9903.