ER closures continue to plague Pugwash


PUGWASH – For the sixth time in a month the emergency department at the North Cumberland Memorial Hospital is being forced to close because of a physician shortage, but officials with the Cumberland Health Authority are hoping those closures will end soon.

“It’s something we continue to work on,� health authority spokesperson Ann Keddy said. “We have had the nurse practitioner in place since the first of March, now we are looking for another doctor.�

The emergency department will be closed for 12 hours beginning Wednesday at 8 p.m. because there’s no physician available to cover the shift. The department will reopen at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

ER shifts are being covered on a rotating basis by four physicians, including three physicians from Pugwash and one from Oxford. Another physician from Truro has been covering shifts periodically.

There are times, however, when there is no physician available.

“There are times when the doctors need some time off or they are busy with their own offices,� Keddy said. “If we can get another doctor that would relieve a lot of the pressure and ensure the emergency department doesn’t have to close periodically.�

The health authority is sending letters to the Dalhousie Medical School hoping to attract a graduating physician to the community.

Area municipal councillor Kathy Langille said the numerous closures of the ER are becoming troubling to the community.
“It’s a definite inconvenience for people,� she said. “People are having to go elsewhere during emergency situations and it’s causing some concern.�

Langille said the village commission may take the matter up with the health authority.

Along with that, Keddy said the community’s new nurse practitioner – Carla Greene – is settling into her office and is seeing patients who book appointments. She is also spending a half day each week in Oxford.

Keddy also reminded area residents that when the ER is closed anyone experiencing a medical emergency should call 911. People should never go to a closed emergency department expecting to receive medical care. It’s also not appropriate to go to a physician’s office, private residence or attempt to locate an individual physician in the community to request emergency medical treatment.

If medical service of a non-emergency nature is required, individuals should contact their family doctor’s office to make an appointment. If anyone is unclear on a proper course of action, contact may be made with the hospital at 243-2521.

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