AMHERST - A veteran physician is concerned patients will suffer if ICU doctors walk off the job at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre next week.
AMHERST - A veteran physician is concerned patients will suffer if ICU doctors withdraw their services at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre next week.
If an agreement is not reached between Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health by Monday at 7 a.m., the Cumberland Health Authority will close the hospital's ICU to admissions and patients already in the intensive care unit will be transferred to other hospitals in northern Nova Scotia and southeastern New Brunswick.
Dr. Brian Ferguson is worried what will happen to seriously and critically ill patients needing intensive care services, and he's taking aim at the county's three internal medicine specialists who may withdraw ICU services as part of a provincewide action.
"This is not about fatigue, it's about money," Dr. Ferguson said. "These three internists weren't part of the building of the original regional centre at Highland View. They didn't build the program, it was pre-existing before they arrived and have no right to destroy it."
Ferguson feels that if the area's three ICU specialists don't like the situation here they should show honour and respectively leave.
Cumberland County is presently served by three internal medicine specialists who cover the ICU around the clock including doctors Scott Bowen, Kris Szczesny and Galina Miletskaia. Locums are called in when the need arises.
When contacted, Dr. Bowen said he is disappointed with the comments and he felt the three have the support of the medical staff at the hospital.
"I don't believe that physician was at a meeting that the medical staff association had on Sept. 26th and neither was I because I was out of town. At that meeting, all the physicians there voted in favour of our position," Dr. Bowen said. "That physician has a history of going out on his own."
Health authority spokesperson Ann Keddy is hoping there'll be a resolution before then but says the CHA has made contingency plans.
"The internists who serve the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre have given notice that if a satisfactory agreement was not reached by Oct. 1, they will be withdrawing their services in the ICU effective Oct. 8. To date no agreement has been reached and therefore the CHA must be prepared to address this possible service interruption," Keddy said.
Patients in the hospital's ICU at the time will be managed by the most responsible physician in charge of their care until a transfer can be arranged. Chiefs of staffs at the South East Region Health Authority in Moncton, Capital Health in Halifax, Colchester Regional Hospital in Truro and Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow have agreed to accept the transfer of acutely ill patients from Cumberland County.
EHS has been advised of these plans in order to ensure there are sufficient ambulances available to transport patients. The Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre is the lone acute care facility in the county with five critical care ICU beds and two step-down beds. Ferguson is afraid a work stoppage is going to make it difficult for him and other ER physicians to efficiently do their jobs.