Health con­cerns

Physi­cian-led rally set for Sunday in Syd­ney Mines

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY JULIE COLLINS

Cape Bre­ton physi­cians are voic­ing their con­cerns about the state of health care on the is­land.

The Cape Bre­ton Med­i­cal Staff As­so­ci­a­tion has or­ga­nized a rally for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Me­mo­rial High School in Syd­ney Mines.

A res­o­lu­tion passed April 10 by the as­so­ci­a­tion stat­ing the con­cerns about the con­di­tion of health care in­cluded the names of more than 70 lo­cal physi­cians.

Two main ar­eas of con­cern are the con­tin­ued loss of ser­vices/ col­leagues — psy­chi­a­try and mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary men­tal health ser­vices, in­fec­tious dis­ease, ge­ri­atrics and pri­mary care, to name some ex­am­ples. The fu­ture of the North­side Gen­eral Hospi­tal and its emer­gency depart­ment is also a con­cern.

“I’ve been here since 1962 and the work that was done in the past 20 years to im­prove health care has gone down the drain in four years,” said Dr. Mah­mood Naqvi. “We don’t do chest surgeries here, if you have a can­cer in your lung you will be wait­ing here for­ever be­fore you get to Hal­i­fax.”

Naqvi, who man­ages wound care at the re­gional hospi­tal in Syd­ney, said with the loss of vas­cu­lar surgery, pa­tients who are be­ing trans­ported to Hal­i­fax for care of­ten end up with am­pu­ta­tions or worse.

“Ev­ery since the govern­ment changed, and they changed the health-care sys­tem into one district, we have more doc­tors leav­ing than ever be­fore,” Naqvi said. “The only in­fec­tious dis­ease spe­cial­ist we had, he left a few months ago, and we have no one here to look after the MRSAs, VREs, all the so-called hospi­tal-ac­quired su­per­bugs.”

Sunday’s rally grew out of a con­cern for changes that were go­ing to take place to the way physi­cians work­ing in the North­side Gen­eral Hospi­tal’s emer­gency depart­ment were go­ing to be com­pen­sated.

Dr. Mar­garet Fraser, who has a fam­ily prac­tice, works in the emer­gency depart­ment at the re­gional hospi­tal in Syd­ney and does op­er­at­ing room as­sists, said that is­sue has been tem­po­rar­ily re­solved.

“But, we be­gan dis­cussing the wider is­sue of loss of ser­vices. The main con­cern really is the de­lay of care and the lack of care in Cape Bre­ton due to loss of cer­tain physi­cians ser­vices,” she said.

Fraser is con­cerned that peo­ple are dy­ing, and more peo­ple will die.

“Our govern­ment keeps telling us we are over­re­act­ing, but our health care is in cri­sis and peo­ple are ac­tu­ally dy­ing,” she said. “That man who died in the hall­way in Hal­i­fax re­cently, that’s not an ex­cep­tion. That was a situation where some­one spoke up, but for ev­ery per­son you hear about there are 100 that you don‘t.”

Fraser said along with the loss of vas­cu­lar surgery ser­vices and tho­racic surgery, there is a high con­cen­tra­tion of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from hep­ati­tis C on the is­land.

“Once the pa­tient moves into the lat­ter stages of the dis­ease, they will have to go some­where else for treat­ment. Many don’t have the means to travel, and will have to let the dis­ease take its course.”

Re­fer­ring to when the Cape Bre­ton Can­cer Cen­tre opened in 1995 in Syd­ney, Dr. Beth MacCormick, who has a fam­ily prac­tice in Syd­ney Mines, said peo­ple could stay on the is­land for their treat­ment.

“Those were the days when doc­tors came to Cape Bre­ton and they usu­ally stayed,” she said. “We didn’t hear of ER clo­sures and in those days we wouldn’t know what an or­phan pa­tient was. It’s really changed the last num­ber of years.”

MacCormick, who has been prac­tic­ing medicine for 35 years, said along with los­ing ser­vices, the loss of fam­ily doc­tors has im­pacted many peo­ple in the com­mu­nity.

“It’s hap­pened so many times, it’s like an epi­demic. We need to know why they aren’t stay­ing,” she said. “The com­mu­nity knows things are not good, the doc­tors know it’s not good and I think we need to talk to­gether and then talk to govern­ment.”

Greg Boone, di­rec­tor com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pub­lic re­la­tions with the Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity said there would be rep­re­sen­ta­tives with the Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity at the rally to lis­ten to the con­cerns of physi­cians and the pub­lic.

“Th­ese con­cerns will be shared with the NSHA lead­er­ship.”

Naqvi

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