Moncton — In a pilot project aimed at taking the sting out of long ER waits and increasing revenues for the New Brunswick health care system, Horizon Health Network and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation have teamed up to explore ways to make emergency room waits more fun for patients.
“We really don’t like the term ‘casino’ — we instead like to think of them as entertainment centres,” said a beaming Horizon CEO Margeret Melanson. “It’s really a great opportunity to turn this long wait time situation around.”
Chances are you may have already seen an “entertainment centre” pop up at an emergency room near you.
“Look, we’ve got people with minor injuries and long waits ahead of them. Why not give them something to do that can pass the time while helping to fund our healthcare system?” said Atlantic Lottery spokesperson Stephen Leblanc.
According to Leblanc, patients now have the opportunity to play VLTs while they wait in the ER. Hospitals in larger centres will also be adding table games for those who like cards and haven’t suffered a significant hand injury.
“We’ve got people waiting 12, 14 and 16 hours just to see a doctor that may or may not be able to do anything for them. Why not give them something to take their minds off of their medical situation and maybe even the chance to turn their luck around a bit?” added Leblanc.
Earl Mott, a 63-year-old Salisbury man experiencing sharp intestinal pains and urinating blood, proudly showed off his $178 in winnings from the waiting room at the Moncton Hospital ER. “With the roll I was on, I couldn’t believe when they called my name and pulled me away from this machine that was finally paying out,” laughed Mott.
With all gaming revenues going back into the health system, the province hopes this pilot project can help make long ER waits a little more bearable for patients and at the same time fill some of the major funding gaps.
“The possibilities for a project like this are endless. I wouldn’t necessarily want people betting with their place in line, but maybe the jackpot winner gets a guaranteed private room? It really just comes down to how fun you want to make it for people,” explained Leblanc.