NSHA provides update on doctor recruitment

PORT HAWKESBURY: Town council heard an update on local doctor recruitment efforts from the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) during the regular council meeting on March 5.

In his presentation, Grayson Fulmer, senior director of medical affairs, provided statistics on the number of physicians who started in the Eastern Zone between April 1 and January 31. He said a total of 22 physicians, 11 specialists and 11 practicing in family medicine, joined the zone.

In addition, he broke down the number of physician vacancies. As of January 31, there are 46 total vacancies across the zone, resulting in 30 specialists and 16 family medicine vacancies.

Physician recruitment efforts have resulted in 120 physicians starting and an additional 36 committed to practice in Nova Scotia.

Following the monthly council meeting, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton said council requested and wanted the ability to hear Fulmer’s presentation so they could better understand the process of recruitment, as well as what’s being done locally.

“When we do have a doctor that’s being brought into our community – how can we participate?” she said. “Since we know our community the best we can do a great job of helping that potential doctor feel welcomed and bring that wealth of knowledge to the table, in terms of what is there here with regard to opportunity.”

Chisholm-Beaton acknowledged council has some work cut out for them in terms of having material that they could use to be able to market Port Hawkesbury for doctor recruitment and for population retention and attraction, but will take steps to create a promotional video showcasing what the town has to offer.

“It’s certainly very important. Right now, we do have one position that Grayson did refer to that’s presently vacant in the Town of Port Hawkesbury,” she said. “We do have several physicians that could be retiring in five or more years. I think at that point, we would definitely be in crisis mode trying to figure out how we were going to replace those positions.”

The original vacancy occurred just prior to the 2012 municipal election and Chisholm-Beaton said council wants to figure out how they can work collaboratively with the NSHA and the Department of Health and Wellness to fill it.