Glace Bay rolls out welcome mat in effort to recruit doctors
With emergency room closures popping up all across Nova Scotia, doctors are struggling to keep up with the work load.
The doctor shortage is nothing new for Glace Bay, but the community has taken it upon itself to try to recruit new doctors.
For nearly 20 years Dr. Mark Ellerker has been practising in Glace Bay.
Over that time, he has seen a number of physicians come and go, but recently he says more have been leaving than staying.
"We are quite down in numbers," Ellerker says. "Traditionally, we had 15 family doctors in Glace Bay, and now we're down to nine. So we are really quite in need."
David MacKeigan is a member of Bay It Forward -- a community group that is hoping to reverse that trend.
Recently the group welcomed four doctors from Nigeria to the area.
"We did some jiggin' for mackerel and that was quite an exciting time for the recruits and their families because they had their spouses and children with them," said MacKeigan.
The potential recruits also toured the Cape Breton Miners Museum and had dinner in the community. In all, MacKeigan says it was a positive experience for everyone, but they didn't minimize the number of ER closures plaguing the island, and the amount of work some physicians say at times is overwhelming.
"I've been very up front with them," said Ellerker. "They know the whole the story, but if they come here they can make a big difference in the community."
This is the second straight year that Bay it Forward has taken it upon themselves to recruit physicians to the area. Last year, they were able to secure two new doctors, who are now working in Sydney.
"We are part of the community and community development," MacKeigan said. "We see there's a need for doctors in Glace Bay. As a community group the community has to be involved in the recruitment. We have to show them and showcase our community to the new doctors. It's not just about coming here to work, it's about being integrated into our community."
So far, MacKeigan says there has been no commitment from any of the doctors, but they're hoping to hear good news soon.
Ellerker says the physicians in the community have a lot of experience under their belts and are quite willing to take recruits under their wings and mentor them, if they plan on opening their own practice in the area. There are also plans for a new collaborative practice in Glace Bay, which Ellerker says should help with recruiting efforts.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore.