The Nova Scotia government has announced that 16 doctors have been hired in Cape Breton
Four of the new hires will be family doctors, while the other 12 will are specialists in fields including radiology, emergency and psychiatry. Five have already begun working, and the rest are expected to start in the next six months.
Chris Milburn, a family and emergency room doctor at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, says it's good news, but he worries the numbers could be misleading.
"The problem I have with this type of announcement is it doesn't balance out with how many doctors we've lost in the same span of time," says Milburn.
Kim MacEachern is among thousands of Cape Bretoners without a family doctor. She hasn't had one for more than two years.
Despite living with partial paralysis on her left side after suffering a stroke years ago, word of the new hires is being met by her with cautious optimism.
"It's a start,” MacEachern says. “It's not an end. We need more. We need help."
This recruitment effort comes just a couple of months after Cape Breton physicians held a rare news conference declaring the island's health care system to be in crisis.
On Thursday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority acknowledged that while recruitment efforts have been robust, retaining doctors remains a challenge.
"The more welcoming the community is, the more you integrate and settle into that community. Not just for the physician, or the health care provider, but also for their families," says Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey.
This latest recruitment effort was buoyed with help from the Cape Breton business community. More than $12,000 was raised to produce a video featuring local doctors singing the praises of working on the island.
"The problem, as I say, is not getting them. It's, 'Are they going to stay?'" says Milburn.
MacEachern says all she can do is hope she'll have a new doctor soon.
"There's the anxiety. I'm always stressed. I'm always worrying.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.