Families call hasty meeting with Shannex after letter about doctors
HALIFAX -- The Nova Scotia government seems to be taking steps to provide healthcare services in a number of privately-run nursing homes in the province.
As CTV News reported Tuesday, Shannex has sent letters to dozens of families, warning that it won't accept new patients or re-admit residents admitted to hospital if they don't have family doctors.
The company has since softened its stance, but when Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey announced the conversion of 30 residential-care beds to nursing-home beds in Halifax on Wednesday, he faced blunt questions about the crisis.
The families who received letters from Shannex gathered for a hastily-called meeting with the company.
Without a local doctor willing to treat residents without their own general practitioner, Shannex warned residents admitted to hospital would not be allowed to return.
The company later clarified in the media re-admission would be on a "case-by-case" basis.
The minister says doctor recruitment efforts are continuing, but in the meantime, nurse practitioners are being approached as a stop-gap.
As for whether that's enough for the company, Delorey says he hasn't had an opportunity to speak with a representative from Shannex.
"We spoke last night, but not since I had that information, so I'll be following up with him later," Delorey said Wednesday.
Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill says the philosophy should be simple.
"If we need a hundred beds, we build a hundred beds," Burrill said. "If we need 900 beds, we build 900 beds, but what we don't do, is what this government has done in the last six years -- build zero beds at all."
All of this is deeply troubling to the family of 82-year-old Harold Murray, who is legally blind and in a wheelchair after having lost both of his legs to diabetes.
"It was his poor health that got him here," said Heather O'Brien, Murray's daughter. "It's his poor health that's essentially going to leave him homeless."
Doctors Nova Scotia says creative short-term solutions will be needed, and a new contract with the province may help facilitate that, but the long-term has to be the end-game.
"We simply don't have enough physicians in the province," said Doctors Nova Scotia President Kevin Chapman. "You know, it's much better getting your care in the nursing home than to go to the emergency room."
The minister insists doctor recruitment efforts are ongoing, but it's more challenging in some parts of the province than in others.
People in the Colchester region hope one will step up to deal with their nursing home needs.