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Local hospital services not on chopping block says minister

Leo Glavine, the Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, answered questions about his governement's intentions with regards to health care Thursday night at the Amherst Fire Hall. Glavine, centre, was joined by (from left) Terry Farrell, MLA for Cumberland North; Lindsay Peach vice-president of Integrated Health Services Community Support for the Nova Scotia Health Authority; and Cheryl Northcutt, operations executive director with the Northern Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Leo Glavine, the Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, answered questions about his governement's intentions with regards to health care Thursday night at the Amherst Fire Hall. Glavine, centre, was joined by (from left) Terry Farrell, MLA for Cumberland North; Lindsay Peach vice-president of Integrated Health Services Community Support for the Nova Scotia Health Authority; and Cheryl Northcutt, operations executive director with the Northern Zone of the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

AMHERST – Death by a thousand cuts to the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre have been greatly exaggerated.

That was the message Leo Glavine brought to concerned citizens of Cumberland County who filled the upstairs of the Amherst Fire Hall Thursday evening.

Glavine, the Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, helped alleviate fears that services provided at the CRHCC were going to be shuttled to other regional hospitals, eventually reducing the CRHCC to a skeleton of its former self.

“I want to assure you, I put it in writing, I sent a letter to your mayor (David Kogon), that there is no intention to change the status of the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre,” said Glavine to the large crowd in attendance. “The idea is to have this health centre here to provide the care that this community needs at the highest level possible. That’s the goal.”

Rumours that health services would be drawn away from the CRHCC began to circulate after doctors at the centre were asked to perform surgeries at other regional hospitals.

Dr. Brian Ferguson, a doctor at the CRHCC, was one of several people who asked a question of minister Glavine during Thursday’s meeting.

“Can you truly guarantee us that our services at this hospital will remain exactly the same, that the level of care we can provide our patients will remain here and not be transferred to Colchester Hospital which is $100 million over budget?” asked Ferguson.

Glavine left little wiggle room in his answer.

“There is no question the centrepiece of a strong health delivery system are, indeed, our nine regional hospitals, and this is why I can commit, and as I put in writing to the mayor, that there is no need to change in any way the status of the hospital here,” answered Glavine.

Ferguson has been a doctor in Nova Scotia for 35 years, and he laid out a long list of past dealings with former governments, which have led to a cynical viewpoint of political promises. But, in the end, he seemed satisfied with Glavine’s answer.

“I read that letter. There was one part where you said, ‘not now,’” said Ferguson. “That led to ambivalent thinking, and I think tonight you may have erased some of that, and I thank you very much for that.”

The public meeting ran for more than two hours and was hosted by Cumberland North MLA Terry Farrell in partnership with the Town of Amherst.

Dr. Brian Ferguson asked minister Glavine if cuts to the CRHCC were on the government's agenda.
Glavine answered questions for close to two hours.

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