KENTVILLE, NS – When Sharon Kehoe found out her family doctor was closing his New Minas practice, her heart sank. It had only been one year since her family was added to his patient list, but now, they would be once again without a consistent doctor.
“There are nine of us in the family and nearly everyone has some kind of health issue. Even my two 8-year-old grandchildren. So, not having a family doctor who knows our family history and ongoing medical conditions is very worrying,” says Kehoe.
Kehoe’s doctor is one of four doctors in Kings County who have shuttered their practices since September, leaving approximately 10,000 patients in need of a new family physician.
Now that their doctor is gone, Kehoe says she’s required to pay an Ontario company $300 to get access to her family’s health records. In addition, her husband, who has unregulated high blood pressure, doesn’t have anywhere for his hospital tests to be sent.
“Emergency rooms and walk-in clinics aren’t a long-term option for people with health concerns,” says Kehoe. “There is no preventative or follow-up care. My concern is that vulnerable people in Kentville and New Minas are going to fall through the cracks.”
Kings North MLA John Lohr agrees, and wants to see the Liberal government make recruiting new doctors to Kings County a priority.
“We have a province-wide shortage, but in Kings County, it’s getting worse every day,” says Lohr. “The Liberals campaigned on a doctor for every Nova Scotian, yet we’ve seen no progress. It’s time to increase recruitment efforts so vulnerable and sick Nova Scotians get the quality primary care they deserve.”
Last week, Auditor General Michael Pickup released a report on healthcare that shows gaps in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s doctor resourcing plans, including issues around communicating their plans with Nova Scotians and prioritizing people on the family doctor wait list who have health issues.
“The Auditor General’s report confirms what we’ve been hearing for months from people like Sharon and her family,” says Lohr. “Nova Scotians who need a doctor are tired of being told to go to the emergency room or walk-in clinic. They want answers from the Liberal government, and more than anything, they want a family doctor.”