17 May Political parties need to respond to crisis in healthcare in Digby Area

A report released last night by the Digby Area Health Coalition (DAHC) shows the damage caused by years of inadequate healthcare in the Digby region. “It’s the only drawback to living here” is the result of almost a year of community based research and details the experiences of residents in southwestern Nova Scotia. The report was based on interviews and focus groups with dozens of residents and includes harrowing personal stories. The Nova Scotia Health Coalition attended the release and have been working with the DAHC to push for improvements in care.

“This report provides evidence of what many Nova Scotians have been saying for years: you simply cannot access the health care you need in many places in this provinces and that is literally killing rural communities and residents,” said Chris Parsons, provincial coordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition.

The DAHC also released a report based on interviews with ten doctors who left the area in recent years. This report details the dysfunction that has undermined efforts to retain physicians to provide primary care and staff the Digby General Hospital. Doctors told DAHC interviewers that they felt that the health authority engaged in “bait and switch” tactics during contract negotiations and that off-site managers treated doctors like “little kids.”

The reports from Digby echo many of the concerns about management problems that were highlighted earlier last week in the “Nova Scotia Solutions Paper” released by concerned health care professionals.

“Both the “Solutions Paper” and the work of the Digby Area Health Coalition show that the people who deliver and use health care do not feel like decision makers are listening and do not understand the challenges that patients and health care workers are facing,” Parsons said.

“Last night I spoke to one resident from Digby whose boyfriend has had to go to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital due to a lack of options in Digby. She told me that since January she’s had to drive over 6,500 km just to visit and help care for him,” he added.

The Nova Scotia Health Coalition is calling on the political parties to respond to both “It’s the only drawback to living here” and the report on doctor retention and to detail how they will give communities like Digby more control over healthcare and the resources they need to deliver safe, accessible and compassionate public health care.