St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation is making the most of a $10,000 grant through the Healthy Communities Stream. A release from the province states the foundation is using the funding to help welcome doctors and their families to the Antigonish area.
The idea is to use the funding to show new doctors and their families the experiences available to them in Antigonish including fossil digging, touring farms, exploring Keppoch Mountain, taking in Theatre Antigonish, and participating in a Ceilidh.
Provincial Health Minister and Antigonish MLA Randy Delorey said the foundation applied for the grant with the proposal of helping get and keep physicians in the area, noting much of the work surrounding doctor recruitment is already happening in the area. Delorey also said you can’t recruit just the doctor, adding you have to attract the whole family.
The provincial government launched the $200,000 Healthy Communities Stream in August after input from community groups, municipal leaders, health professionals and the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority brought its regular board meeting to Antigonish Thursday. One of the issues raised during the meeting was doctor recruitment. The NSHA’s Vice President of Medicine, Dr. Nicole Boutlier says it was able to recruit 130 doctors last year, and they hope to have an additional 180 physicians working this year. She says so far this year 51 have started practice and another 48 have confirmed start dates.
Boutlier says efforts like the event at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital over the weekend where local residents formed a human chain around the medical facility are huge in assisting doctor recruitment.
The NSHA’s Vice President of People and Organizational Development, Carmel d’Entremont says it’s hired more than 440 new Registered Nursing graduates this year. Last year it was over 300.
In an effort to help alleviate local doctor recruitment and retention issues, some local doctors formed the Creating a Healthy Physician Workforce at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, described as a physician led and community supported initiative.
Dr. Jane Anne Howard, medical staff president at St. Martha’s, said as local physicians, they have a key perspective in trying to recruit and retain doctors locally. While there is a provincial recruitment plan in place, Howard said they are trying to think of local ways to complement the plan.
In the spring, physicians partnered in a workshop where a large number of the hospital’s medical staff tried to identify concerns with regards to physician health and sustainability. She said they then tried to pare that down to focus areas aiding the provincial recruitment drive. The doctors also engaged community members and stakeholders to join their efforts.
The group plans to showcase what the hospital and community have to offer at a “Hope and Dreams” event planned for September 2019. A release from the group describes the event as a fun- and food-filled celebration of the commitment to quality health care for the community.
With doctor recruitment a hot topic in town, the mayor took part in discussions with a recruiter and the health minister.
During last night’s meeting of Antigonish Town Council, Mayor Laurie Boucher said she and Antigonish County Warden Owen McCarron met with a recruiter and a potential surgeon looking at coming to the area. She said the surgeon wants to work in a small town and was impressed with St. Martha’s Hospital.
Boucher said a meeting is set today with McCarron, the recruiter, and the St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation to try and figure out what everyone’s role are in terms of getting and maintaining doctors.
Boucher said she and McCarron met with Antigonish MLA and health minister Randy Delorey to discuss the status of the hospital. She also said she spoke with representatives from the hospital about the possibility of having a lapse in service if the remaining obstetrician leaves in August as reported. Boucher said she understands they are actively recruiting and the province is cooperating with those efforts.
A citizen-led initiative to recruit and retain doctors in Pictou County has hit the ground running.
Nicole LeBlanc, speaking to the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce
In the past year, Healthy Pictou County was created, with commitments to fund their efforts, by Hospital Foundations, the county’s 60 physicans, municipal councils and local residents for a five year period.
The group’s project navigator, Nicole LeBlanc told the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce among its efforts is participating in site visits, where prospective physicians tour the area.
During Tuesday’s meeting of Antigonish County Council, Warden Owen McCarron mentioned attending a meeting with the mayor of Antigonish and members of the St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation. One of the topics McCarron mentioned is the recruitment of doctors to the area.
McCarron said he feels it’s important for the county and town to take a proactive role and look at the importance of showcasing the community. McCarron said the discussion started a couple of months ago and they are getting themselves prepared.
McCarron said council sees doctor recruitment as an ongoing item, noting with recruitment, there is always competition. He said there are plenty of things to showcase in the town and county.