NSHA Takes Stock Of Health Care Concerns With Discussion Sessions

Posted on Wednesday, May 22, 2019 11:36 AM

The Nova Scotia Health Authority heard from South Shore residents last night.

The NSHA held a discussion session in Liverpool prior to their first public board meeting being held in the Western Zone today.

It involved a survey of attendees, prior to the session to see what's on their minds.

About 75 people sat around tables and discussed some of their health care concerns with representatives of the health authority.

The health authority has been holding these information sessions across the province for the past year as a part of their Engage For Health Campaign, and collecting information on what are the primary concerns in each zone.

Like most of the province, people in Queens are concerned with access to health care and doctor recruitment.

"Generally you see overlap on topics such as access to primary care and wait times," says NSHA Board Chair Frank van Schaayk.

But unlike other areas, food insecurity was raised as a concern as well.

Much of southwestern Nova Scotia has a high child poverty rate - At any given time, the Food Bank in Liverpool has over 350 clients.

Van Schaayk, says food insecurity is something community health boards can help with.

"They can work with grocery retailers for example to bring a broader range of produce," says van Schaayk.

When it came time to choose where they would hold their first open board meeting in the Western Zone however, it was a local that swayed the decision.

"Dr. Al Doucet approached us," says Van Schaayk.

"I have to say, I look at what Al and the foundation have done at Queens General and it's simply amazing so we quickly said 'yes.'" he says, noting the engagement of the community.

"If you walk through Queens General you see everywhere, sounds and sights of what the foundation has done for that hospital."

Over the years Queens General Hospital Foundation has had success in doctor recruitment.

The foundation takes on the task of giving doctors tours and helps them get to know local doctors as well as understand the set up of the hospital in Liverpool.

Most of the doctors in Queens come in with the understanding they will take turns in the Emergency Room as a part of their weekly routine, which means the hospital has never closed it's ER.

Van Schaayk would like to see hospital foundations and community health boards reach out and speak to one another about what works for them and what doesn't, which is something he says the NSHA can help with as well.

Meanwhile, Doucet says he's pleased to see board chair members on the ground, getting to know the communities.

He took members for a tour before the discussion session at Queens Place Emera Centre.

"They need to be out, they need to actually be seeing the things they're making strategic decisions about so for them to be doing this, I think it's well overdue and I commend them for doing that," he says.

Likewise, Doucet believes communities need to engage and collaborate in the delivery of their own health care and says opening NSHA meetings to the public is the right way to make that happen.

Story by Brittany Wentzell
Twitter: @BrittWentzell
Email: [email protected]