11 Mar Media Release: North Shore Committee launches petition

Monday, 10 March 2008

Health Committee launches petition drive

Tatamagouche, NS – The North Shore Citizens’ Health Committee, based in Tatamagouche will be circulating a petition throughout the North Shore region.  The purpose of the petition is to gain public support for a request to the Colchester East Hants District Health Authority asking that they hire one or two Nurse Practitioners to work at the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital in Tatamagouche. This effort is being undertaken to find a solution to the numerous closures taking place at the hospitals ER department.

“A Nurse Practitioner has been hired by the Cumberland Health Authority in the Pugwash area to work in the ER department and in several Doctors offices in that area,” says Judy Davis, Media Spokesperson for the Committee.  “We want a Nurse Practitioner to work in our ER here in Tatamagouche.  There are Nurse Practitioners working all over NS in medical offices, clinics and hospitals. Why is it that we are going without Emergency Services at our hospital when there are health care providers available who can give us the help we need?”

There are many Nurse Practitioners in Nova Scotia who are not practicing at their full scope because they cannot find a physician willing to work collaboratively with them.

“I have been told by the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of NS that there are NP’s in this province looking for work and many of them are forced to go to work in Northern areas of the country to keep up the hours that are required to maintain their license,” says Davis.  “It seems almost criminal to me that these practitioners are available to work throughout the province and we are not utilizing their services.”

Employing more NP’s is a great way to alleviate the doctor shortage that is going on at this time. In Pugwash, the Nurse Practitioner works in collaboration with two of the local Doctors. Nurse Practitioner’s work in collaboration with a Doctor but only need to be able to contact the physician by telephone when needed in a medical emergency. Nurse Practitioners are autonomous and can provide patient screening, make diagnoses, write prescriptions and make referrals to specialists. Doctors handle any medical emergencies that arise. In the average day NP’s can handle almost all of the patient needs that come through the ER.

“I am also very disappointed to learn from the District Health Authority last week that Doctors in the Tatamagouche area are not prepared to work collaboratively with Nurse Practitioners at this time,” says Davis. “From an ethical perspective it is hard to understand why the doctors would be reluctant to do whatever is possible to ensure that the residents of the North Shore are provided with health care services 24/7. If we can find a doctor anywhere in the province who is willing to collaborate with the Practitioner here, for all intents and purposes we could utilize their services. In Digby for example, the NP there collaborates with a doctor in Halifax and is able to provide ongoing services to her patients.”

The petition will be circulated around the North Shore and will be available at various locations beginning next week.  Summer residents with cottages are asked to support this petition as they are also affected by the ER closures. Copies will be available by calling 657-3371. The local committee plans to present the petition to the local Community Health Board and the District Health Authority at a Community Consultation meeting planned by the DHA for Tatamagouche on April 1, 2008 at the Tatamagouche Centre.

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For more information please contact:

Judy Davis
Media Spokesperson
North Shore Citizens’ Health Committee
(902) 657-3371

Kyle Buott
Provincial Coordinator
Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network
(902) 406-9422

About the North Shore Citizens’ Health Committee:

The North Shore Citizens’ Health Committee was formed to find public sector solutions to the problems in the health care system. The group has set as two of its goals for this year, to end ER closures at Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital and to bring a Nurse Practitioner to the Tatamagouche community.  The Committee also strives to put an end to the privatization of our public health care system.  The Committee is part of the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network

About the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network:

Formed in 1996, the Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network’s goal is to stop the privatization of the public health care system, ensure high levels of care, and create a forum for people and communities to discuss issues in health care.

The Network is a coalition of local health committees, community groups, organized labour, faith groups and individuals dedicated to protecting and advancing public health care to include services like pharmacare, dental care and long-term and home care.

The Network is political but non-partisan and receives no government funding.