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Grand Manan, N.B., sees expanded health-care services come to the island

It has been a little more than a year since Scotiabank closed for good on the island of Grand Manan, N.B., leaving islanders with no financial institution.

The blow came just a few years after the island’s lone dentist closed up shop, meaning more trips to mainland New Brunswick for the island’s 2,600 residents. It’s a trip that includes three hours on the ferry, plus travel time in a vehicle.

The newly-opened Coast Health & Wellness Clinic, taking over the space left vacant by Scotiabank in 2022, aims to help bring those services back to the island.

“A full day trip can be a lot, and financially it can be a lot as well,” says Coast Health & Wellness co-founder Lauren Martin. “Being able to have something here at home to best service our community allows everyone to see growth in our community.”

Martin, along with her partner Michael Munro, own the island’s lone pharmacy. When Scotiabank left the island, the pair remained positive. They acquired a lease for the building and began to imagine the potential for the space.

The clinic offers a wide-range of health-care services to Grand Mannaers, including dental, physiotherapy, counselling, and acupuncture, to name a few. The clinic also has already announced more services that will begin in 2024, like infusion clinics and eye exams.

Some services are available daily with practiced physicians living on the island. Other services, like dental, only see professionals travel to the island every few weeks on a rotational basis. The workers come to the island for two-to-three days at a time and will service as many patients as possible before returning to the mainland. While on Grand Manan, workers have been lodging at local cabins and bed and breakfasts in partnership with the clinic.

“Being able to pick up your grandmother and bring her over for a teeth cleaning, or hop out of work for a quick physio session, it better supports your day-to-day life,” Martin says, in comparison to travelling to the mainland for those services. “Also, financially, you won’t have that same impact of having to go to the mainland.”

A list of services offered in one of the clinics exam rooms at Coast Health & Wellness. (Avery MacRae/CTV Atlantic)


Village of Grand Manan Mayor Bonnie Morse was one of the first residents to take advantage of the new dental services. She admits to having cancelled multiple appointments in recent years due to the cost in travel.

The mayor also acknowledges having a full-time dentist on the island may not be practical due to the population.

“But, I think there is a lot of services that (are) certainly coming every couple of weeks,” Morse says, which is exactly the case for Coast Health & Wellness. “Once a month, every two months, that maybe we have not been able to benefit from as a community, because you don’t take the time when you go to the mainland.”

The opening of the clinic has brought renewed life to the community. The COVID-19 pandemic led to multiple business closing on the island, including Scotiabank, but now investments are once again being made into the island.

“Our village has been a tremendous support,” credits Martin. “We have community groups such as the Rotary Club and the Legion who have fully supported this facility. Really, it’s been the community coming together to make something happen in this space, so what was a loss in this community is turning into something that is quite incredible.”

“A lot of people felt hopeless and that it was a real downturn for the island,” Morse says, in losing the island’s lone bank last year. “To see the building be brought back to life, for it to be so light and lively and have such great hope for the future, it’s just so inspiring to have that happen here.”

Part of that hope for the future is the growth of the island’s population.

The island has had an increase in residents calling the island home in recent years, up nearly 300 people from 2016 to 2021. Morse says she has seen more people moving to Grand Manan first-hand in the last year alone, and hopes that number will continue to tick upwards thanks to the new clinic.

“It’s one of the things people look for when moving to a new community,” says Morse. “Whether it’s recreation services the municipality offers or what kind of services are available in the community, if you’re coming as a family you don’t want to think about having to take 12 hours to take your child to the dentist for a filling. Now they are available here on the island.”


The loss of Scotiabank has left Grand Manan without a financial institution.

While much of people’s daily banking can be done from the comforts of a smartphone or computer in 2023, not everyone is able to take advantages of these services.

“I think for seniors who are very cash-dependant it’s very hard for them to move away from that,” Morse says. “They still write cheques and maybe don’t have the capacity to go on their apps and deposit a cheque, those sorts of things.”

The mayor also points out the inconvenience and stress for cash-based businesses having to go the mainland to make large deposits or withdrawals.

Coast Health & Wellness hopes to ease that burden for islanders as well. On top of expanding health-care services offered in the new year, Martin is hoping to bring a credit union to the facility in 2024.

“We have put out a needs assessment survey with our community,” Martin says. “We have approximately 650 of those forms completed. Our personal goal is 1,000 to show the viability and scalability of financial services coming back here, because losing Scotiabank was a very big loss for our community.”

Martin says they have been in talks with Brunswick Credit Union about bringing its services to the island. The expansion would restore ATM services, as well as personal and retail banking options on Grand Manan.


One of the five exam rooms at Coast Health & Wellness is dedicated to Hallie Bass, a long-time nurse practitioner on the island who passed away in the summer.

One of the clinics exam rooms at Coast Health & Wellness honours the life of long-time island nurse practitioner Hallie Bass who passed away in the summer of 2023. (Avery MacRae/CTV Atlantic)

Martin says Hallie’s room will honour her legacy with a focus on women’s health.

“You do see a lot of teary eyes coming out of it,” admits Martin. “It’s just particularly special cause we are able to honour someone who made such a tremendous impact and truly saved lives both personally and professionally here on the island.”

The island’s mayor recalls Bass coming out of retirement during the pandemic to aid islanders. She said Bass was known to everyone and was a force within the community.

“It’s a real hole in the community, so to see her in that room is very meaningful to everybody,” says Morse. “The fact it represents the way the community has rallied around this health centre and the potential for a credit union to come. People have stepped up and said, ‘I want to raise money, I want to contribute to it so we can have these services here.’”

“I think that epitomizes Hallie and what this means to the community.”

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