Frus­tra­tions mount­ing with fre­quent Pugwash ER clo­sures

Pro­vin­cial re­port shows emer­gency de­part­ment was closed for 2,212 hours

The Amherst News - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAR­RELL COLE

Shock is not a word Kathy Red­mond uses when she de­scribes the fre­quent clo­sures to the emer­gency de­part­ment at the North Cum­ber­land Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal.

Stats re­leased by Health and Well­ness in­di­cate the ER at the Pugwash hos­pi­tal was closed for more hours than any other hos­pi­tal in the prov­ince be­tween April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018.

“Not sur­prised at all,” said Red­mond, a for­mer county coun­cil­lor and long­time advocate for the hos­pi­tal in Pugwash. “It’s frus­trat­ing for the com­mu­nity and it’s caus­ing a lot of fear and stress be­cause peo­ple don’t know if the ER will be there for them when it’s needed.”

She said many peo­ple are go­ing to the ER even when it’s closed.

Dur­ing the 12-month pe­riod, the hos­pi­tal was closed for 2,212 hours. e sit­u­a­tion isn’t much bet­ter at Cum­ber­land County’s three other ru­ral hos­pi­tals. e South Cum­ber­land Com­mu­nity Care Cen­tre in Parrs­boro was

closed for 1,784 hours and All Saints Hos­pi­tal in Springhill was closed 1,530 hours.

The Cum­ber­land Re­gional Health Care Cen­tre’s ER was never closed, but it saw in­creased traf­fic be­cause of the clo­sures at the three other hos­pi­tals.

“You never know from one day to the next what’s go­ing on and you’re ei­ther pay­ing for an am­bu­lance bill or sit­ting and wait­ing in Amherst for four or five hours to be seen,” Red­mond said. “This is putting a strain on Amherst, which doesn’t have the doc­tors or staff it needs to han­dle the traf­fic com­ing from these smaller ar­eas where the hos­pi­tals are closed.”

Red­mond, who has been a pa­tient at the Pugwash hos­pi­tal in sev­eral oc­ca­sions, said the is­sue is not with the staff at the hos­pi­tal or the com­mu­nity’s doc­tors. To her it’s not a doc­tor short­age is­sue, but one in which the prov­ince isn’t com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the physi­cians to de­ter­mine what is needed to main­tain the ERs in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties like Pugwash.

Cum­ber­land North MLA El­iz­a­beth Smith-McCrossin wasn’t im­pressed when she read the re­port.

“I’m re­ally an­gry about this,” she said. “One of the things it says in the open­ing is the health au­thor­ity con­sults with the lo­cal com­mu­nity to ad­dress con­cerns and iden­tify a course of ac­tion. When you look un­der con­sul­ta­tions for Pugwash the only con­sul­ta­tions they did for Pugwash was at a meet­ing I or­ga­nized on March 25. That’s it. In my opin­ion, the whole lot of them need to be fired be­cause there’s no ac­count­abil­ity. And it’s not just Pugwash, it’s the en­tire prov­ince.”

Smith-McCrossin said the ac­tion plan for the north­ern re­gion does noth­ing to ad­dress physi­cians and she’s not ac­cept­ing the as­ser­tion there’s a doc­tor short­age. She blames gov­ern­ment for do­ing things like cut­ting the ru­ral locum in­cen­tive that helped at­tract doc­tors to Pugwash and other smaller hos­pi­tals.

“Ev­ery morn­ing I lis­ten to the ra­dio an­nounc­ing which hos­pi­tal ERs are closed and at the end it says it’s due to a doc­tor short­age, but it’s not due to a doc­tor short­age. The truth is the prov­ince can­celled the locum pro­gram that staffed the ru­ral emer­gency de­part­ments,” she said. “Doc­tors Nova Sco­tia pres­i­dent Dr. Tim Hol­land asked the premier to re­in­state that pro­gram and he re­fused. He’s blam­ing it on the doc­tors and he’s not be­ing truth­ful. It makes me an­gry to see him blam­ing the peo­ple who are not at fault.”

Health and Well­ness Min­is­ter Randy Delorey said his de­part­ment and the Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity rec­og­nize the chal­lenges of keep­ing ru­ral ERs open and have taken steps to make sure there is the proper staff com­pli­ment in each of the fa­cil­i­ties.

The min­is­ter said the clo­sures are linked to staffing and are a last re­sort.

He said the prov­ince has changed the com­pen­sa­tion model and in­creased shift pre­mi­ums for hard-to-fill shifts. He said there have been changes to the locum in­cen­tive pro­gram that pro­vides sup­port for short and long-term va­can­cies.

“Since Au­gust, there have been ap­prox­i­mately 60 emer­gency room shifts that have been filled be­cause of changes in the locum pro­gram,” the min­is­ter said. “They are help­ing keep ERs open.”

Other ini­tia­tives in­clude changes to the fam­ily medicine res­i­dency pro­gram that will see six res­i­dents go to the north­ern re­gion. Two of these in the each of the next two years will be based in Amherst.

He said doc­tors will of­ten stay in the com­mu­ni­ties as they com­plete their res­i­dency train­ing.

As well, pro­grams are be­ing pro­vided to help in­ter­na­tional stu­dents get their li­cence with the Col­lege of Physi­cians and Sur­geons.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.