Once critical of government, Cape Breton doctor now leads restructuring effort
A Cape Breton doctor is changing his tune more than a year-and-a-half after being part of a group of doctors pleading with the provincial government for more resources.
Dr. Kevin Orrell is now leading government efforts to close two community hospitals and supports a controversial plan to replace them with what the government says will be more modern centres.
Orrell was all smiles today as he was introduced as the man placed in charge of the provincial government's plan to close hospitals in North Sydney and New Waterford, replacing them with new modern facilities.
“I think that a modern facility, a comprehensive collaborative facility, will do much to attract people and will improve efforts to recruit,” Orrell said.
It’s a change of heart for Orrell who joined colleagues in May 2017 to voice their concerns publically after learning six more specialists and general practitioners would be leaving the island.
At that time, he was upset with the McNeil government about the state of health care in Cape Breton, saying it was a crisis.
“To not recognize this as a crisis situation in our province is absolutely tragic,” Orrell said in May 2017. “As I said, I am convinced we haven't seen the bottom of it and I'm very, very disappointed in that.”
But Wednesday, Orrell says what has changed is his new position provides a voice for Cape Breton -- something he says was taken away by the development of one regional health authority.
In the past few weeks, doctors pleaded for more resources, saying they were not able to provide proper care because of overcrowding in emergency departments.
“The conditions are starting to become third world, not first world,” Dr. Jeane Ferguson said earlier this month.
The premier called that statement “inflammatory” and today Orrell agreed.
“I agree with the premier,” Orrell said. “I think the comments were inflammatory and I think they were made out of anger and frustration. If you’re coming off a shift and you’re interviewed after you spent a grueling night in the ER, you're going to say things that are dramatic.”
Meanwhile, the Liberals voted against opposition motions yesterday focusing on overcrowding in emergency rooms and doctor recruitment and retention. CTV Atlantic reached out to the premier for comment, but he was unavailable.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore.