NEW DOC­TORS

Cape Bre­ton’s Ge­ri­atric Medicine and Mem­ory Dis­abil­ity Clinic re­turns to full ser­vice

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY GREG MCNEIL [email protected]­post.com

Cape Bre­ton’s Ge­ri­atric and Medicine and Mem­ory Dis­abil­ity Clinic re­turns to full ser­vice.

It’s been a long and wind­ing road but a for­mer chem­istry teacher’s de­ci­sion to leave the ed­u­ca­tion field in favour of a ca­reer in medicine has be­come a boon for Cape Bre­ton’s ge­ri­atric pa­tients.

Though it’s a long story, the end re­sult is that Dr. Ar­lene Kelly-Wig­gins is one of two new ge­ri­atric doc­tors re­cruited to the area, a move that’s al­low­ing Cape Bre­ton’s Ge­ri­atric Medicine and Mem­ory Dis­abil­ity Clinic to re­turn to full ser­vice.

“It’s an amaz­ing deal for the com­mu­nity. It’s a good news story, fi­nally,” said Marie McPhee, direc­tor of se­niors and restora­tive care for the NSHA Eastern Zone.

“The ge­ri­atric pop­u­la­tion that we have, we are go­ing to sup­port peo­ple at home where they should be. And by hav­ing the fam­ily sup­ported and know­ing they can pick up the phone and make a lo­cal ap­point­ment that can get them through a rough time, I think that’s where we are go­ing to shine.”

Kelly-Wig­gins will be in the clinic on a full-time ba­sis, while Dr. Andrew Xiao will join her on part-time ba­sis — two weeks on and two weeks off.

In 1985, Kelly-Wig­gins was a grad­u­ate of St. Michael’s Se­nior High in Glace Bay and about to em­bark on a teach­ing ca­reer that took her from Cape Bre­ton to Ottawa and back again.

Though teach­ing was a re­ward­ing ca­reer, medicine al­ways re­mained in the back of her mind. A ca­reer change came to the fore­front when her fa­ther was hos­pi­tal­ized.

“That just seemed to be the turn­ing point for me,” said Kelly Wig­gins, who grew up in the Ster­ling area.

“I was in the hos­pi­tal with him for days and days and weeks and months and I thought ‘I re­ally feel com­fort­able in this en­vi­ron­ment and I can do this.’”

That ex­pe­ri­ence in­flu­enced her de­ci­sion to en­rol at the Dal­housie Fac­ulty of Medicine where she grad­u­ated in 2015.

She’d later com­plete her fam­ily medicine res­i­dency at Dal­housie’s Syd­ney site in 2017 and has been work­ing a full-time role in the clinic since Oc­to­ber, help­ing it clear a back­log of pa­tients to the point where new re­fer­rals are now be­ing ac­cepted.

Over the past two years Dr. Ken­neth Rock­wood and col­leagues from Hal­i­fax had been pro­vid­ing reg­u­lar sched­uled clin­ics to sup­port fam­ily physi­cians and pa­tients af­ter Cape Bre­ton lost its two ge­ri­atric spe­cial­ists.

Rock­wood will con­tinue to sup­port the start-up of the clinic and visit Cape Bre­ton quar­terly.

GREG MCNEIL/CAPE BRE­TON POST

Marie McPhee, direc­tor of se­niors and restora­tive care for the NSHA Eastern Zone, Lana Lamey, a reg­is­tered nurse and Dr. Ar­lene Kelly-Wig­gins, are shown left to right at Cape Bre­ton’s Ge­ri­atric Medicine and Mem­ory Dis­abil­ity Clinic. The clinic re­cently moved to full ser­vice.

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