Shel­burne County hos­pi­tal de­scribed as ‘key’ lo­ca­tion for ER ser­vices

NSHA CEO dis­cusses health care with Shel­burne mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil

South Shore Breaker - - Health& Wellness - KATHY JOHN­SON ed­i­tor@southshore­breaker.ca

Mem­bers of Shel­burne mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil say they were pleased they had “the op­por­tu­nity for an open and frank dis­cus­sion” con­cern­ing lo­cal health care con­cerns.

That health-care based con­ver­sa­tion was with Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity (NSHA) pres­i­dent and CEO Janet Knox. It oc­curred dur­ing a March 11 com­mit­tee of the whole meet­ing.

Knox, along with Jodi Ybarra, site man­ager for Rose­way Hos­pi­tal, Krista Grant, chief of pub­lic en­gage­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the NSHA, and Fraser

Mooney, the health au­thor­ity’s pub­lic en­gage­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer for the tri­coun­ties, met with coun­cil­lors for well over an hour, field­ing nu­mer­ous ques­tions about the de­liv­ery of health-care ser­vices in the prov­ince and the fu­ture of Rose­way Hos­pi­tal.

Knox was asked point blank if there were any plans to close Rose­way and told coun­cil­lors “no,” agree­ing with coun­cil the Sandy Point, Shel­burne County hos­pi­tal “is a very piv­otal re­source that’s here” and a “key” lo­ca­tion ge­o­graph­i­cally for ER ser­vices in the prov­ince.

“There have been ru­mours cir­cu­lat­ing about the fu­ture of Rose­way Hos­pi­tal for some time and with this con­fir­ma­tion from Ms. Knox, we can con­tinue to fo­cus on find­ing real, lo­cal so­lu­tions to the health-care needs of our res­i­dents,” said War­den

Penny Smith af­ter the meet­ing.

Knox said the NSHA is try­ing to staff 34 ER rooms across the prov­ince and “that’s what the chal­lenge is… We have to change the whole ser­vice de­liv­ery, I truly be­lieve, and then use the re­sources that we have to sup­port where they need to be.”

It used to be that fam­ily physi­cians would keep the lo­cal ER open but dur­ing the last few decades that has changed, said Knox. “I think the an­swer is we iden­tify key ER places in the prov­ince – this is one of them, given the geog­ra­phy – and we de­velop a team” that would be able to go around and staff ERS where needed. “We aren’t there yet,” said Knox.

Knox said there are things the NSHA has no con­trol over, in­clud­ing doc­tors. “We don’t pay doc- tors. We can’t tell doc­tors they have to work in the ER. We can’t tell them where to go. They go where they want… that’s be­tween Doc­tors Nova Sco­tia and gov­ern­ment and is a huge is­sue for us.”

Grant said physi­cian re­cruit­ment is a “top pri­or­ity” for the NSHA, and the re­cruit­ment team “has a very good solid strat­egy in place” but it “takes time.”

Ybarra said it’s ba­si­cally a “full-time job” find­ing physi­cian cov­er­age for the ER at Rose­way.

“This month is go­ing to be bad,” she said. “The gaps are as

bad as I’ve seen in a very long time,” she said, not­ing there is a hus­band-and-wife locum team who cov­ers shifts at Rose­way who will be tak­ing a va­ca­tion.

“We’re los­ing them this month … If they can’t work, they can’t work. They have real lives, too.”

Ybarra said neg­a­tive press and so­cial media com­ments aren’t help­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

“I can tell you for a fact one of the last prac­ti­tion­ers that came here was on a day we were on the news. They were in my of­fice and they hear some­one from the com­mu­nity talk­ing bad about health care and how bad it was. At that mo­ment we lost that doc­tor. We were not even in the run­ning af­ter that be­cause they do not want to come to an area where they hear those things. Hear­ing all those neg­a­tive things who would want to come here? I wouldn’t.”

Ybarra said the com­mu­nity is just “shoot­ing our­selves in the foot” by con­tin­u­ing to bash the Rose­way Hos­pi­tal on so­cial media, not­ing staff take the com­ments “very per­son­ally. It’s hard not to. It doesn’t do much for staff morale … It starts with each and ev­ery one of us to re­mem­ber the good things, to be thank­ful for what we have, locums trav­el­ling two to three hours to help us out. That’s huge. Yes, they get paid to do it, but it doesn’t have to be here.”

The de­liv­ery of ser­vices at Rose­way Hos­pi­tal and staffing were also part of the dis­cus­sion. Blood col­lec­tion ser­vices are mov­ing to a point of care sys­tem, which means no loss in terms of ser­vice, said Knox. “The pub­lic should not ex­pe­ri­ence any change be­cause we change how we do the test,” she said.

As for X-ray ser­vices, while the ma­chine is old, there have been no is­sues with it since it was down a day last Novem­ber, said Ybarra. And, the hos­pi­tal has the new por­ta­ble X-ray ma­chine pur- chased by the Rose­way Hos­pi­tal Aux­il­iary to fall back on. The ma­chine in the X-ray depart­ment is due to be re­placed and is on the cap­i­tal equip­ment list, she said.

Staffing at Rose­way in the last seven years has ac­tu­ally in­creased from 141 em­ploy­ees in 2012 to 174 in 2019, said Ybarra, with two RNS and an LPN sta­tioned in the ER 24⁄7, an ex­tra full-time CCA up on the floor, and ad­di­tional ward clerks.

It takes 5.2 peo­ple to fill one nurs­ing po­si­tion, Knox said.

Re­moval of the $4 park­ing levy at the hos­pi­tal and whether or not there has been any dis­cus- sions about the pos­si­bil­ity for a par­tial walk-in or af­ter-hours clinic at the new health cen­tre ad­ja­cent to Rose­way Hos­pi­tal were other is­sues brought up by coun­cil­lors.

Park­ing levies, which gen­er­ate $10 mil­lion a year in rev­enue across the prov­ince for the NSHA, is a $10-mil­lion is­sue, said Knox, and is some­thing they are work­ing with gov­ern­ment on.

As for a par­tial walk-in or af­ter-hours clinic at the new fam­ily col­lab­o­ra­tive health-care cen­tre, it is a ques­tion that has been asked, said Ybarra.

“It takes time to work with a team to do that,” said Knox. “Phased de­vel­op­ment is the goal for here and that takes time.”

Knox said the amalgamati­on of nine dis­trict health au­thor­i­ties “is not a sim­ple task… it takes a lot of time. The busi­ness side of health care is done. Now there are key ar­eas where we can start to show some change. We’re ex­pect­ing to have a lot of out­comes very shortly.”

Kathy John­son

Janet Knox, pres­i­dent and CEO of the NSHA, re­sponds to a ques­tion from a coun­cil mem­ber at the March 11 meet­ing of Shel­burne mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil’s com­mit­tee of the whole. In the back­ground is Jodi Ybarra, site man­ager for Rose­way Hos­pi­tal.

Kathy John­son

Shel­burne mu­nic­i­pal Coun. Roger Tay­lor, right, asks a ques­tion while mu­nic­i­pal CAO Tom Mace­wan takes notes dur­ing a meet­ing with NSHA pres­i­dent and CEO Janet Knox on March 11.

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