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Cape Bretoners fuming over decision to close hospitals; have many unanswered questions
A day after the province announced its decision to close two Cape Breton hospitals, some people are uneasy that there are still too many unanswered questions.
Monday’s boos have faded away but there are still shockwaves from news of the biggest health-care restructuring Cape Bretoners have seen in a generation.
Dr. Stephanie Langley is the former site lead at the Northside General. She quite that post after learning the hospital - and the one in New Waterford - will close.
“I don't think there's much trust now between myself and the health authority,” Langley said. “I was placed in that position to kind of represent the doctors at that facility and kind of feel like we weren't consulted - or even involved in the decision.”
Dr. Craig stone is an anesthesiologist at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital where the emergency room, along with the one in Glace Bay, will be expanded. He worries there won’t be enough room for all of the new patients and thinks it’s one of many questions left unanswered.
“What are we going to do with these buildings?” Stone said. “What are we going to do with the nursing staff that’s working there now? Where are they going to go? What are they going to do with the services?”
In a community plagued by emergency room closures and a physician shortage, Nova Scotia's premier says changes have to be made.
“This isn't about closing, this is about building, this is about enhancing,” Premier Stephen McNeil said on Monday.
The new primary care-focused plan was endorsed by some of the community’s veteran doctors.
“I've had health-care providers across the province telling me this is the right thing,” he said. “I've had health-care providers in this community telling me it's the right thing. I've had the health authority telling me it's the right thing. We've had three studies that told us that we needed to do this -- through successive governments. It's time.”
Meanwhile, organizers of a public rally set for Wednesday that was supposed to be about equalization say they are now receiving hundreds of phone calls from people who want to come out and protest the decision.
“We expect more than a thousand people to be there,” said Albert Maroun.“Because the last one we had, we had 800 people, and there wasn't the hospital crowd that are going to be there.”
People are wonder what things will be like after all the sweeping changes.
“We provide a good level of service to the patients we serve in this community,” said Langley. “So, I think people are just feeling the loss. And what are things going to be like without the hospital?”
The rally is set for 4:30 Wednesday afternoon in front of the provincial building on Prince Street.
Meanwhile, the emergency room chief for the Nova Scotia Health Authority's eastern zone is predicting that streamlining of emergency room services will lead to better patient care.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald.