By Jaime Bayers
Hospital closures are an ever-daunting problem in Nova Scotia, and the unease has only heightened since Premier Stephen McNeil announced on June 25 the closings of Northside General Hospital and New Waterford Consolidated Hospital in Cape Breton.
The Cooperator interviewed Tammy Martin, the MLA (NDP) for Cape Breton Centre area to ask some questions about concerns involving our own hospitals. Before she was elected, Martin had worked for the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
“Since I’ve been elected I asked about the fate of our hospital,” Martin said, “I was told I was fear mongering and invited the health minister to discuss the concerns. He didn’t answer my e-mails.”
Martin said neither she nor anyone in the community knew ahead of time about closing the hospitals. “We were just told we wouldn’t lost it,” Martin said. “We did not know one thing. I was as floored as everyone else. There was zero consultation, zero information. No doctors knew at the Northside. No working groups knew. No conversations about options. I kept asking."
Martin said the closure was especially surprising given that the hospitals were in the 2nd year of a 3-year process for installing a new sprinkler system. “Last year you install sprinklers and we ask questions, and nothing,” Martin said. “Then boom. It’s very disheartening to think how quick it happened and how long it must have been in the works. Either they were really fast, or they lied.”
When asked about advice for other communities worried about the future of their local hospitals, Martin advised people to make noise, and a lot of it. “Don’t believe the lies, first of all,” she said. “Vote them out if you can. People need to be aware and be vocal with the people who are elected. Call, leave voice messages, do everything you can. The MLAs sitting up there say closing our hospitals is a good thing. I don’t think they’ll be up there much longer. They work with constituents, they represent your community, not just the party line. If we make enough noise, we can have them understand we are coming for them.”