‘Palliative care is broken’: N.S. woman takes doctor frustrations to Province House
A woman whose 11 family members including herself are without a family doctor went to the Nova Scotia legislature Wednesday looking for answers.
Sharon Kehoe says her family’s been without a family doctor since their physician went to work in Newfoundland.
Kehoe says she took her wait to the legislature Wednesday to seek reassurance from the government that it is doing something to bring doctors in.
“We are all on the registry, and no we haven't had any support,” she says.
Kehoe and her husband, their two children, their grandchildren and in-laws have all been waiting for a family physician for over a year. She says many in her family have pressing health conditions.
“I'm looking for answers,” she says. “Someone please tell me, what's the long-term plan?”
Kehoe has taken her case to MLA John Lohr, who says he's received an increasing number of similar inquiries.
“We really have seen an explosion in the number of people without a family doctor in the last four or five months,” says Lohr.
In the month of February, 2,714 people added their name to the list of those without a family doctor. Just over 2,100 people were removed. There are now 44,158 people on the registry waiting for a family doctor, which is an increase of almost 600 people in one month.
Kehoe says she and her family were recently forced to come up with a palliative plan for her dying 84-year-old uncle. A doctor was only available once every two weeks, and she says there's very little palliative care available.
“We had to hold him up, and pull down his pants and allow him to go to the bathroom and then clean him,” Kehoe says.
“This is an 84-year-old man. He should not have to die with that little dignity.”
Health Minister Randy Delorey says the province is expanding its residency program, looking for more international physicians and creating recruitment incentives.
“Whether it's one person in the family or a dozen when you need the primary care, we understand,” Delorey says. “That's why that's a primary focus for us as a government.”
But Kehoe says her family’s waited long enough.
“Palliative care is broken,” Kehoe says. “Our medical system, as far as providing doctors, is broken.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.