GUYSBOROUGH: The CAO of the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) says council doesn’t view the increased closures of the emergency department at the Guysborough Memorial Hospital in a good light.

“The whole hospital situation in Guysborough is a little more stable, than in Canso because they’re using a locum system for doctors,” Barry Carroll told The Reporter. “Canso have been stable from a doctor perspective. Our biggest problem has been the Guysborough hospital.”

He explained they only have one out of four doctors working, so they’re short three.

“We’ve been working with Nova Scotia Health and the province to try to recruit more doctors in there,” Carroll said. “We came to the table with $100,000 per doctor subsidy if we could recruit full-time doctors, and that applies to both in Canso and Guysborough, but we haven’t had success there yet.”

Following the municipality’s regular council meeting on July 21, he advised the recruiters are telling the municipality it’s their top priority to get the doctor positions filled but highlighted there was some disruption in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now with the third wave of COVID-19 over, senior staff hope the province can put their efforts back into focusing on recruitment, as it’s not acceptable to have their emergency department’s door locked, the CAO noted.

“This has been a challenge and as a result we’ve been getting lots of days where the emergency rooms are closed, which is totally not satisfactory to the community,” Carroll said. “When we drive by there and we see the closed sign they have in front of the hospital, it’s a serious concern for council and the residents.”

The CAO indicated the municipality has suggested whether it’s a pilot project, or something else along those lines, they need to be open; at least if there is no doctor available, the door is not locked and they can still triage people who do come in.

“Right now, our next hospital is 35 to 45 minutes away at best,” Carroll said. “And maybe in an ambulance that may even be longer.”

Another thing council has a concern with is the whole ambulance situation throughout the municipality; as the level of coverage fluctuates on a daily basis, where it’s questionable if there’s an ambulance available on any given day.

“It’s a compounding problem, no doctors, emergency rooms closed, there’s no model that keeps the door at the hospital open,” Carroll said. “With an aging population, and this is not campaign-related but our number one issue around the council table is health care, which is not a municipal responsibility.”