Dr. Brian Ferguson said the provincial government must come clean about the future of the hospital that opened in 2003 in Upper Nappan.
“People here should be scared to death,” Ferguson said. “The minister continues to talk in parables when he should be giving clear and concise answers about whether this hospital is going to lose its status.”
Ferguson fears that hospital’s services are being threatened with some surgeons being asked to perform surgery in other regional hospitals.
“This government wants to centralize everything when it comes to health care,” Ferguson said. “They could at least be upfront and honest about their plan.”
Both Cumberland North MLA Terry Farrell and John Gillis from the Nova Scotia Health Authority beg to differ.
“There is absolutely no plan to reduce surgeries at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre,” Farrell said. “In fact, through my discussions with the provincial health authority and the Department of Health, I’ve learned that there is actually the potential to enhance the use of our operating rooms at the regional hospital.”
John Gillis with the Nova Scotia Health Authority said he’s not aware of any specific incidents of surgeons being asked to operate elsewhere.
“However, around the province surgeons sometimes work in other sites, if there is operating room time available, to ensure we make the most of available resources across the system,” Gillis said.
Ferguson said the hospital needs to be able to provide 24-hour ER coverage to maintain its Level 2 status.
“It’s a slippery slope when any of these things begin to fall away. 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 physicians and keep the ER open,” said Ferguson, adding there is concern changes may be coming in area’s such as cancer care – specifically surgery.
Cumberland South MLA and PC leader Jamie Baillie wants the government to come clean about the future of the regional hospital.
“To me it’s very important we maintain Cumberland Regional as a fully operational regional hospital,” Baillie said. “Maintaining Level 2 status is very important to Cumberland County and I’m calling on the provincial government to confirm that Cumberland Regional will keep its Level 2 emergency status under their reorganization.”
Baillie said it’s hard to recruit doctors with the uncertainty hanging over the hospital. He said it’s not fair to the medical staff and the people of the county to leave those questions unanswered.
The MLA said he’s also concerned about the government’s plans for other small hospitals in Cumberland County and in other areas of the province.
“I believe they have a plan and they haven’t shared it,” Baillie said. “This piecemeal approach where they quietly take one piece at a time and move it somewhere else is both unfair and sneaky. That is no way to run the health care system.”
Farrell said he’s disappointed with Baillie’s comments, accusing the Cumberland South MLA of fear-mongering to upset the community for political gain.