ICU closed at regional hospital

Darrell Cole
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Specialists move to new rotation

AMHERST - Critically-ill patients in Cumberland County are being transferred to hospitals in Moncton and Halifax after the areas three internal medicine specialists moved to a new on-call schedule on Monday.

The three specialists - Dr. Scott Bowen, Dr. Krystian Szczesny and Dr. Galina Miletskaia -informed the Cumberland Health Authority that they are reducing their service at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre to a one-in-four rotation from the previous set up of a one week on, three weeks.

Originally they told us they were going to change on Oct. 8 but they delayed it while negotiations continued between the Department of Health and Doctors Nova Scotia, CHA spokesperson Ann Keddy said Monday. Negotiations are still ongoing but theyve decided to go ahead with the change.

The first of these service interruptions began Monday and will continue until Monday, Nov. 5.

Care for patients already in the ICU is being maintained, but there will be no new admissions to the department this week.

If someone comes in through the emergency department needing ICU care they will be sent by ambulance to Moncton or Halifax, Keddy said. It certainly will cause some disruption and there will undoubtedly be some people who will have to be sent elsewhere.

Authority CEO Bruce Quigley said patient care and safety will remain the top priority and arrangements have been made with other hospitals to accept transfers of acutely-ill patients.

The CHA had hoped that locum, part-time doctors could be found to provide appropriate coverage. Unfortunately, despite every attempt to find a replacement, no available internist could be located and arrangements were made with other facilities and EHS to transfer any patients requiring ICU care, Quigley said.

The three internists had advised the health authority in September that they were considering changing their on-call availability if a suitable financial agreement could not be reached as part of ongoing negotiations between Doctors Nova Scotia and the Department of Health relating to payment for internal medicine coverage.

To date, the three local physicians have not been able to agree with the current provincial offer for on-call services.

Organizations: Cumberland Health Authority, Department of Health, Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre

Geographic location: Moncton, Halifax, Cumberland County

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