NEWS FLASH: EMERGENCY ROOMS CLOSED IN SHEET HARBOUR AND MUSQUODOBOIT HARBOUR!
(MAY 24)Once again, emergency rooms are closed in Sheet Harbour and Musquodoboit Harbour. The emergency room at Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital closed at 8am this morning, Thursday May 24, and will not reopen until 8am on Tuesday, May 29. The emergency room at Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital closed at 8am on Thursday May 24, and will reopen at 8pm, May 24.
In Sheet Harbour, more than 260 people turned out for an emergency meeting in May called by Senator Tom McInnis. In an interview below from the June printed version of the Cooperator, Senator McInnis explains why “Health care is the number one problem in the country,” and what he hopes a new community-based health care group can do to start fixing things from the bottom up. For a sneak preview of this interview, click here.
Emergency room closures are in part due to the scandalous failure by governments headed by all three parties to do what needed to be done to recruit enough doctors to keep these facilities staffed and open. A quick look at the “News” section on the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s website on Thursday morning shows emergency room closures within the last week at Northside General Hospital, Glace Bay Hospital, Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital, All Saints Springhill Hospital, Strait Richmond Hospital, Fisherman’s Memorial Hospital, Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital, and Eastern Shore Memorial Hospita
Fighting for Better Health Care in Sheet Harbour
By Richard Bell
When he sees a problem, Senator Tom McInnis is not one for sitting around complaining. And he has no doubt that right now, “Health care is the number one problem in the country.”
“In Sheet Harbour, we’re down to bare bones with respect to nurses and doctors,” McInnis said in an interview. “They just announced another weekend emergency room closure. Many people are fearful that the hospital will close--I don’t think that’s in the offing at all, but a lot of people think that.”
McInnis convened a town meeting in May to talk about health care concerns. More than 260 people showed up. When McInnis called for volunteers to serve on a new community group focused on health care, more than 20 people stepped forward.
“Government’s got a large role to play,” McInnis said. “Capital Health’s budget is over $2 billion a year. And the Department of Health’s got a $4 billion budget. Those are big chunks of change. But if we’re going to make things better, it’s a matter of communities organizing and being proactive, not reactive. The new group can uncover information, but not in a hostile way. Pointing fingers is not going to help.”
Given the shortage of doctors across Nova Scotia, McInnis sees the new health committee playing a major role in recruiting new doctors and nurses.
“I was talking the other night with a retired doctor who’s head of a recruiting team for Liverpool,” McInnis said. “He took me through all they efforts they’ve gone through to get doctors. You really have to sell your town and your quality of life, to show young people what’s available, and to offer up some incentives. We can’t forget that many young doctors come out of school burdened with debt.”
Recruiting doctors is a highly competitive arena. Some communities already have well-funded foundations to support recruiting and retaining medical workers. “I made a presentation 10 years ago to set up a foundation,” McInnis said, “but they didn’t take me up on it. We’re going to have to look at things like the No-Supper Supper they run at the Musquodoboit Harbour hospital. And a foundation can grow quite fast once you set it up. People bequeath money, and they give large gifts.”
From the community point of view, McInnis said that communication, or rather the lack of it, was the biggest complaint he heard. “There’s just no communication between Capital Health and the community,” he said. “If Capital Health were going to hire one more person, it would be awfully nice if they got a person who was dedicated to communications for the three Eastern Shore hospitals. Right now, the only notification you get that the emergency room is closed is to drive by the hospital and see the sign.”
In addition to working to get the new Sheet Harbour group off the ground, McInnis said he also planned to start pushing health care issues forward in his Senate caucus.