Fight for EMH

New working group will meet Friday

By Katherine Murphy    

CANSO – As the third week of service reduction at Eastern Memorial Hospital (EMH) approaches, a working group is being established to address the nursing shortage that caused a halt to admissions and nighttime ER starting May 12.

Guysborough - Eastern Shore - Tracadie MLA and Minister of Transportation Lloyd Hines is helping to establish the working group, an initiative of the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). At Hines’ request, Susan O’Handley, the driving force behind a rally in support of the hospital on May 12, will join the group. MODG Councillor for district five, Janet Peitzsche, is also expected to take part.

O’Handley told The Journal that the group’s first meeting is expected to happen Friday, May 24.

At the May 15 monthly meeting of MODG council, Peitzsche provided an update on actions being pursued to address the crisis. She said a member of the community and a hospital employee were asked by MLA Hines to provide a list of local individuals who should be asked to join the group.

Speaking with The Journal on Monday, Hines discussed the reasons behind establishing the working group.

“It’s always best to allow the community to be the way-finders in a process like this, he said, noting that following the announcement of service reduction at the hospital, there was much fear and confusion among local residents. He said it is important to regroup as a community and work toward solutions.

“There’s no finger pointing; we have a mutual problem,” he said. “Let’s put our heads together to find a solution.”

Hines suggested creating a group of stakeholders to establish what the problem is and how to overcome it in a cooperative effort.

The group is expected to include representatives of the community, the hospital foundation and the local healthcare community. NSHA will also contribute names of individuals to join the working group.

“It’s a really good start,” he said of the group coming together.

The role of chairperson for the working group has yet to be filled, but Hines said he is hopeful that it will be a member of the local community. He said he is also hopeful that a solution to the crisis will be found.

At an emergency meeting of MODG council on May 10, councillors voted unanimously to allot $10,000 in funding to support a local delegation having meetings in Halifax to work toward solutions, as well as an extra incentive of $10,000 each for nurses and doctors recruited to regular positions at either of the municipality’s two hospitals.