Minister of Health and Wellness, Randy Delorey, who is also Antigonish’s MLA chats with Wayne Ezekiel, Chair of St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation after the organization received a $10,000 grant to suport community-led initiatives around doctor recruitment.

ANTIGONISH: Community efforts in doctor recruitment and retention in Antigonish are receiving a bit of a boost from the province.

St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation is receiving a $10,000 grant through the new healthy communities stream – from the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage – to support community-led initiatives around doctor recruitment.

The foundation will use the funding to welcome physicians and their families to the Antigonish area through a series of cultural excursions and programs by seizing the opportunity to show the unique experiences available to them in the area including: fossil digging, touring farms, exploring Keppoch Mountain, taking in Theatre Antigonish, and participating in Ceilidhs.

“Government is pleased to support community groups and organizations stepping up to promote what their area has to offer,” health minister Randy Delorey said. “This complements recruitment efforts by the Nova Scotia Health Authority [NSHA] and government in attracting doctors and their families to the province.”

Delorey spoke about a model used in the Yarmouth area that had success bringing together community groups, which were working against each other, as one with municipal representatives, the local MLA and the health authority recruiter.

“I took that model and reached out to the recruiter about a year-and-a-half-ago, and suggested when doing recruiting as an MLA, I’m here,” he said. “So part of their visits now are coordinated with my office.”

In addition, they also turn to the municipality, as the mayor and warden are now involved as well.

“It’s great. This little fund puts the icing on the cake for the stuff that’s already there to polish off a few things,” Delorey said. “The way we’re building it up now is, trying to recruit outside of the province and we’re just showcasing the province and giving the physicians the choice of where they land.”

Delorey said the fund is really designed to support community-led physician recruitment.

“We look forward to working with our local physician partners to undertake this exciting project focused on supporting the integration of new physicians and their families into our community,” Wayne Ezekiel said. “For us, it’s about sharing cultures and traditions and making everyone feel welcome.”

Ezekiel, who is also the chair of the St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation, suggested communities are their own best resource to showcase what they have to offer.

“The reason I moved here 27-years-ago was the quality of life in Antigonish,” he said. “The town itself has so much to offer, it’s a big city in a small town.”

Ezekiel said recruitment groups have to go to the candidates and this funding gets individuals out and introduces them to new people and new places.

“It’s about integration of the family, not just the physicians themselves,” he said. “It’s trying to get them familiar with the community so they’re comfortable when they come here and they feel like they’re part of the community.”

The provincial government launched the $200,000 healthy communities stream in August and it was developed with input from community groups, municipal leaders, health professionals and the NSHA.

Municipalities, museums, libraries, social enterprises, First Nations, communities and community groups and cultural organizations that are registered Nova Scotia not-for-profits may apply.

Funding is available through the program to a maximum of $25,000 and the next round of applications for the program close on December 1.