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Physician situation reaching critical point, says MLA


Shelburne Roseway Hospital. (Tina Comeau)
Shelburne Roseway Hospital. (Tina Comeau)

Roseway: One doctor retiring, another leaving and a third on maternity leave

SHELBURNE, N.S. —

With one doctor leaving, another retiring and a third on maternity leave, Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland is calling the physician staffing at Roseway Hospital a “near-crisis situation.”
Masland brought the issue up during question period in the House of Assembly on Oct. 2. 
“Les Goulden is the chair of the Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee at Roseway Hospital, and he tells us that the physician situation at Roseway is hitting a critical point,” said Masland. “Dr. John Keeler, who has been in rotation at the hospital for 35 years, is about to retire. Dr. Ryan Pawsey is buying out his contract and is expected to return to New Brunswick by Dec. 1 of this year. Another physician, Dr. Leeann Delong, is on maternity leave. That leaves one physician, Dr. Trudy MacFarland, to handle all in-patient care. My question to the minister is: Since the NSHA knows about the near-crisis staffing situation at Roseway, what do they plan to do about it?”
Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey admitted, “Obviously, it’s a concerning situation there… It’s my understanding they’ve been having meetings, including meetings as recently as the last day or two, so those engagements with community and health care providers to provide input and suggestions and chart that path forward are ongoing. It is a situation that the Health Authority and the department are well aware of and one that is actively being worked on.”
Fraser Mooney, spokesman for the Nova Scotia Heath Authority (NSHA), said the NSHA knows “the pending departure of these physicians presents real challenges."
"We are very concerned about how this will impact the community and the workload of Dr. McFarlane and many others who provide care in the area," he said. "Many physicians and NSHA leaders have been meeting to develop plans for maintaining in-patient care, and to manage the ongoing situation with emergency department coverage. This team is looking at a number of options and other areas where different models and mixes of providers have been successfully implemented to maintain safe inpatient care.” 
Mooney said there has been some promising activity on the recruitment front. 
“We have a potential new physician visiting Shelburne for a site-visit (this month). Another physician did a site visit in late-August. No commitments have been made, but we continue to follow up,” he said. “Recruitment and retention of family doctors, nurse practitioners and other primary health care providers to Shelburne is a priority for NSHA.”
Mooney said Dr. Keeler, who is expected to retire by the end of the year, has always been very open about his future plans and has been working closely with NSHA on transition planning. 
“We really want to acknowledge that Dr. Keeler has been a dedicated provider for his patients, a skilled mentor for new doctors and a true leader for our health care team in Shelburne,” said Mooney. “His enthusiasm for mentoring new doctors, and involvement in the Dalhousie Family Medicine Residency Program has helped Shelburne gain recognition as an area that warmly welcomes new health care providers. We are also grateful for Dr. Keeler’s vision and valuable input during the planning and construction of the new Shelburne Primary Health Care Centre.”
Dr. Pawsey has notified his patients he is leaving the Shelburne Family Practice as of Nov. 22. 
“Dr. Pawsey has been instrumental in working to establish the collaborative family practice along with Dr. Keeler, Dr. McFarlane, Dr. DeLong, the nurse practitioners and the rest of the team,” said Mooney.   
“We have seen some recruitment success in Shelburne over the past few years, and we hope to continue to build on this," he added. "We know we can count on our community partners and their ongoing efforts to promote Shelburne as a welcoming and attractive place for professionals to practise."
Another nurse practitioner and licensed practical nurse have just been added to the staff at the Shelburne Family Practice Clinic, said Mooney. Nurse practitioner Duana d’Entremont also works out of the Barrington Medical Clinic (blood collection lab).
The Shelburne primary care clinic for people who do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner continues to operate Fridays at the Shelburne Family Practice.  Patients can book appointments starting each Tuesday for the upcoming Friday clinic by calling the practice at 902-875-2321.
It is important that anyone without a primary care provider to add their name to the Need a Family Practice Registry:  needafamilypractice.nshealth.ca or call 811, Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

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