On their way

New doc­tors coming to Cape Breton within next six months

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY NANCY KING

The Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity says it has re­cruited 16 new doc­tors who will ar­rive in Cape Breton within the next six months, but one lo­cal physi­cian says se­ri­ous deficits re­main in crit­i­cal ar­eas of care.

The au­thor­ity announced Thurs­day that five new doc­tors started prac­tis­ing in Cape Breton in July, with 11 more hav­ing com­mit­ted to come.

Four are fam­ily doc­tors and 12 are spe­cial­ists, in­clud­ing in psy­chi­a­try, ra­di­ol­ogy and emer­gency. The doc­tors that have al­ready ar­rived in­clude two fam­ily doc­tors, an emer­gency room doc­tor, a car­di­ol­o­gist, and an ear, nose and throat spe­cial­ist, Tim Guest, Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity’s vi­cepres­i­dent of in­te­grated health ser­vices and chief nurs­ing of­fi­cer, said in an interview.

There are also 10 more site vis­its sched­uled for doc­tors who have ex­pressed in­ter­est in Cape Breton.

“A re­ally im­por­tant mes­sage that we want to get across with this an­nounce­ment is the col­lab­o­ra­tion with the physi­cians in the lo­cal area and the com­mu­nity, there’s a real in­ter­est on be­half of the com­mu­nity to help re­cruit and re­tain physi­cians and I think that’s re­ally pay­ing off for us,” Guest said.

They are con­tin­u­ing to re­cruit for ad­di­tional fam­ily doc­tors as well as spe­cial­ists in Cape Breton, he said.

Dr. Jeanne Fer­gu­son, a geri­atric psy­chi­a­trist, said Thurs­day it’s good to see new doc­tors ar­rive but there re­main short­ages in key ar­eas, in­clud­ing vas­cu­lar surgery and the lack of an in­fec­tious dis­ease spe­cial­ist.

“We’re still miss­ing some crit­i­cal com­po­nents here,” she said. “I’m glad th­ese doc­tors are here, that’s great, but it doesn’t ad­dress th­ese is­sues.”

Fer­gu­son said it would also be im­por­tant for health au­thor­ity of­fi­cials to sit down with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Cape Breton med­i­cal staff as­so­ci­a­tion. Those con­ver­sa­tions would give ad­min­is­tra­tors a good idea of what is hap­pen­ing on the ground, Fer­gu­son said. The doc­tors held a rally in May in Syd­ney Mines that at­tracted hun­dreds of CBRM res­i­dents con­cerned about the physi­cian short­ages.

Guest said the pub­lic com­ments made by those doc­tors did not have an im­pact on the NSHA’s re­cruit­ment ef­forts in Cape Breton.

“We’re tak­ing more of a longterm ap­proach to how we do our re­cruit­ment,” Guest said. “The re­al­ity is re­cruit­ment of physi­cians is a na­tional is­sue, it’s not new, we’ve been need­ing to deal with it for many years and un­for­tu­nately we have a blip where we have a big­ger chal­lenge than what maybe we’ve had in the past, but I would say that re­ally hasn’t had a huge im­pact on our ap­proach.”

Guest said he be­lieves doc­tors are en­cour­aged by the in­ter­est shown by other physi­cians and the current re­cruit­ment ef­fort is see­ing pos­i­tive mo­men­tum.

“I know the current sit­u­a­tion is stress­ful for them and will con­tinue to be for a while and I would say that we’re headed in the right di­rec­tion but does this solve this current chal­lenge? No,” Guest said.

In a post–cab­i­net scrum and tele­con­fer­ence Thurs­day, Health and Well­ness Min­is­ter Randy Delorey also said the co­op­er­a­tion of other lo­cal health­care pro­fes­sion­als and the com­mu­nity is key to re­ten­tion.

“When you set out to a new com­mu­nity, wher­ever that hap­pens to be, the more wel­com­ing the com­mu­nity is the more you in­te­grate and set­tle in that com­mu­nity,” he said.

Sev­eral lo­cal doc­tors have said that in the shift to a provincewide health au­thor­ity, the lo­cal voice has been lost. Delorey said the NSHA has met with Doc­tors Nova Sco­tia, which rep­re­sents physi­cians across the prov­ince.

“Th­ese are op­por­tu­ni­ties to again en­sure that physi­cians and other health-care pro­fes­sion­als know that their voices are be­ing heard,” he said.

Delorey said part of the Lib­eral plat­form in the spring elec­tion called for the NSHA to hold its meet­ings across the prov­ince that would pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­ver­sa­tions with lo­cal doc­tors and there are se­nior of­fi­cials with the au­thor­ity based in Syd­ney.

“They would pre­sum­ably be ac­ces­si­ble to those physi­cians and other health care pro­fes­sion­als,” he said.

In a news re­lease, Dr. Rex Dunn, a mem­ber of the Cape Breton re­cruit­ment com­mit­tee, at­trib­uted part of the re­cruit­ment suc­cess to help from the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity and the Cape Breton Re­gional Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion.

Lo­cal busi­nessper­son Stu­art MacLeod ar­ranged fi­nan­cial sup­port for a video fea­tur­ing Cape Breton land­marks and tes­ti­mo­ni­als from lo­cal doc­tors to use as a re­cruit­ing tool.

Guest said he be­lieves con­nec­tions to the lo­cal com­mu­nity help to re­tain doc­tors.

Current va­can­cies can be viewed on the health au­thor­ity’s website at http://www. nshealth.ca/physi­cian.

Fer­gu­son

Guest

Delorey

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