Chester one of many N.S. communities hit hard by doctor shortage
CHESTER, N.S. -- Nearly 50,000 Nova Scotians are without a family doctor, and that includes a large number on the South Shore, where one community is about to lose three doctors by the end of the year.
People in Chester are frustrated with the lack of resources in rural communities.
Chester's "Our Health Centre" serves as a walk-in clinic and there are several family practices here. People from across Nova Scotia's South Shore go there, including Shaylene Eisenhauer.
She's one of nearly 50,000 Nova Scotians on the "Need a family practice registry."
"I keep coming here because I have a lot of health issues, so I'm here a lot," said Eisenhauer.
As of Nov. 1, the Nova Scotia Health Authority says 3,563 people were added to the registry and last month, the authority says 8,140 people were placed with a practice.
But people sitting in the waiting room in Chester say there isn't enough being done.
"Try to get doctors, try to help everybody," Eisenhauer said. "I know it's very frustrating for everybody and a lot of people have very serious health issues and they have nowhere to go."
By the end of the year, the centre will be down three family doctors.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority's director of recruitment says in a statement in part:
"We are working hard to recruit to the Chester area and the rest of the region. We have two recruiters in western Nova Scotia who are busy with recruitment events and campus visits around the country," Katrina Philopoulous said in a statement.
Lorraine Burch is the general manager of the Chester walk-in clinic.
"We just hope that one of these recruits that comes through decides to stay, one, or two, or three!" said Burch. "We would be very happy with that."
She says, so far, there have been eight site visits.
"They're all really enthusiastic about the space and the location," Burch said. "I mean this is a beautiful place to live, but they have lots of things to consider. A number of them were international and they have to go home and figure out all that with immigration, so we just have to be patient."
Burch says there is some red tape when it comes to bringing physicians here from other countries.
So, for now, she's asking everyone to remain hopeful and patient, even if it means long wait times at the walk-in clinic.