MONCTON (GNB) – A new program that started in Zone 1, the Moncton region, to help residents gain access to primary care is showing strong results, said Health Minister Bruce Fitch.

The new NB Health Link program contacts people who are on the Patient Connect NB list and offers access to a network of family doctors and nurse practitioners. It offers in-person appointments, as well as the option for telephone and online appointments.

“This service is providing people with primary care until they can be matched with a permanent primary care provider,” said Fitch. “We know that having timely access to primary care from professionals with NB Health Link will provide better health outcomes and help prevent non-urgent visits to our emergency rooms.”

To date, of the 13,500 people reached, 7,100 have registered with the program while 4,400 confirmed they already have a health-care provider.

NB Health Link is being implemented in collaboration with Extra-Mural/Ambulance New Brunswick, which is managed by Medavie Health Services New Brunswick.

“We are excited to partner with the Department of Health to help deliver such a new and innovative program for New Brunswickers,” said Richard Losier, president of Medavie Health Services New Brunswick. “We’re already getting positive feedback from people who have registered with NB Health Link and soon had an appointment with a doctor or a nurse practitioner.”

Once registered, patients can call NB Health Link’s toll-free phone number or visit the online portal to be triaged to determine whether an in-person, telephone or online appointment is needed. The program is supported by a centralized electronic health record that follows a patient through each appointment.

The NB Health Link model will be adapted and scaled to meet the different needs of communities across the province. Service New Brunswick will continue its role of contacting those on the Patient Connect NB list in other health zones.

Access to primary care is one of five pillars of the government’s health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action; others are access to surgery; creating a connected system; access to addiction and mental health services; and supporting seniors to age in place.

Zone 1 results

To date, of the more than 19,600 people contacted, more than 68 per cent have been reached.

Of those reached:

·         32 per cent indicated that they have a doctor.

·         53 per cent did not have a doctor and registered for NB Health Link.

·         eight per cent did not have a doctor and chose not to register for NB Health Link.

·         seven per cent have yet to respond.

Efforts continue to reach everyone on the list in Zone 1. When staff get no answer, they make two more attempts to reach the patient by phone at different times on different days and then mail them a letter. When they encounter an out-of-service phone or the wrong number, they make efforts to locate an in-service number.

Residents of Zone 1 who have not been contacted should visit the Patient Connect website to ensure their contact information is up to date.

Other zones

To date, NB Health Link has clinics established in Moncton and Dieppe. Clinics in other regions are scheduled to open over the course of the fall and winter. The next phase will focus on Zone 3, the Fredericton region, followed by Zone 5, the Campbellton Region.