Is regional hospital under threat?: Local doctor, MLA demand answers

September 14, 2016 at 4:58 pm

AMHERST, N.S. – Dr. Brian Ferguson says the Minister of Health must come clean about the future of Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre.

“The people of Cumberland County should be scared to death,” says Dr. Ferguson. “All this minister does is talk in parables when he should be giving clear and concise answers. Is the regional hospital in jeopardy of losing its current status, yes or no?”

Dr. Ferguson says the rumour mill is rampant with worries that Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre could lose its Level 2 Emergency status. He says these rumours are perpetuated by local doctors being asked to perform surgeries in other regional hospitals.

“These rumours are all swirling and the Minister of Health won’t provide clear answers about the direction of regional health care,” says Dr. Ferguson. “This government just wants to centralize everything when it comes to health care. They could at least be upfront and honest about their plan.”

Dr. Ferguson says the move to force the centralization of major health services will backfire.

“How can the Liberals not have learned something from the failures of other failed attempts across the country,” he says. “It’s like they’re determined to follow a failed template. It’s time to tell us exactly what’s in store for Nova Scotia’s regional and rural healthcare.”

Dr. Ferguson says Amherst hospital must be able to provide 24 hour ER coverage, including being able to handle trauma, have an OR and ICU, provide cancer care, including surgeries, and offer obstetrics and gynaecology care.

“It’s a slippery slope when any of those things start to fall away,” he says. “It’s a house of cards if a regional hospital starts to lose its ability to offer full health care, because suddenly it also becomes harder and harder to recruit doctors or keep the ER open.

Dr. Ferguson says there’s a worry that changes may be coming down the line in the region’s cancer care, specifically surgeries.

“We cannot lose our ability to provide proper cancer care, and that includes surgery,” says. “If we do, we’re done.”

Cumberland South MLA Jamie Baillie says a fully operational hospital is very important to the region, especially when severe weather leaves Cumberland County locked in by the Cobequid Pass or the New Brunswick marshes. Ferguson shares this concern and points to Nova Scotia Royal Commission of Health Care, which accounted for the delivery of services for the unique geographic and demographic challenges of certain communities.

“To leave seniors and families in our rural communities without a regional hospital that is self-reliant, is cruel, plain and simple,” says Dr. Ferguson.

He is also concerned about the future ability to attract and retain doctors.

“We could actually find ourselves in a dangerous situation,” he says. “It’s time to tell Cumberland County the plan for this hospital.”