PUGWASH – Pugwash’s village commission is going to tackle the community’s ongoing physician shortage.
Commission vice-chairman Bill Martin and fellow commissioner Tracy Mundle are setting up a community committee that will work to attract a new physician to the village in hopes of limiting the number of closures of the emergency room at North Cumberland Memorial Collaborative Emergency Centre.
“We hope to sit down and brainstorm about what the community has to offer and what can we do to attract a doctor, to provide incentives for a doctor to consider locating in the community,” Martin said.
Martin feels delays with the proposed new health care facility in Pugwash have cost the community doctors. He said it has to be hard to recruit new doctors when there’s uncertainty about the project first announced several years ago by former MLA Brian Skabar and re-announced just prior to last May’s provincial election.
“People here remain concerned at the pace of the project,” Martin said. “When it comes to the ER closing it’s part of a bigger problem about whether we’re going to have a new hospital or not.”
He said the province is refusing to call it a hospital even though the community keeps asking what’s the difference between a health care facility and a hospital.
“We believe we have actually lost doctors because of the long delay in improving that facility,” he said. “If the hospital is built the problem might take care of itself because the doctors might want to practice in a brand new facility.”
Martin is hoping to entice one of the community’s physician to serve on the committee. He hopes to work with Doctors Nova Scotia to see if a physician can be found while the committee will also look at what incentives it can offer.
“There are communities all across Nova Scotia in a similar situation to us who have found ways to offer incentives for doctors to consider,” he said. “We think the greatest incentive is the community itself and the proximity to saltwater, freshwater and recreational facilities. We think there are doctors out there who’d love a rural practice.”
Martin assumes the province would prefer communities to stay out of the recruitment game, but he doesn’t see any downside to trying to entice a physician to Pugwash. He is also optimistic the community will be successful.
“I have to be optimistic because I’m an optimistic person,” he said.