We’re Open: Caring for the Walking Well in a Rural Emergency Department


  • Paul Norman MUN
  • Thomas Heeley
  • Christopher Patey MUN Medical School




Non Urgent Care, Primary Care


Emergency departments (EDs) are increasingly unable to cope with patient volume, leading staff to question the arrival of those seeking non-urgent care. However, these patients ideally should be afforded appropriate management and treatment. In 2014, the Carbonear General Hospital ED in Newfoundland and Labrador took decisive action, engaging front-line staff and shifting the focus of care away from why patients were visiting to prioritize how best to treat those who did. By 2019, the ED had not needed to resort to hallway medicine, despite a visit volume that increased to 30,000 patients over five years, and staff grew into a close-knit, quality improvement and community force. From this experience, it is evident that small investments in education and system redesign can shift attitudes toward ED care for patients, and provide support for primary care in the community. It has already started in one hospital — we’re open for assistance with primary and non-urgent care.

Author Biographies

Paul Norman, MUN

Paul Norman is a registered nurse working as Regional patient flow coordinator for emergency services Eastern Health, NL. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from Memorial University, Centre for Nursing Studies he has 10 years of experience working in Emergency Nursing and Critical Care.

Thomas Heeley

Carbonear Institute for Rural Research & Innovation by the Sea, Carbonear, NL Canada


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How to Cite

Norman, P., Heeley, T., & Patey, C. (2023). We’re Open: Caring for the Walking Well in a Rural Emergency Department. Canadian Journal of Emergency Nursing, 46(1), 10–13. https://doi.org/10.29173/cjen165



Peer Reviewed Articles