At least two of the seven potential doctors who toured Digby and area in early October have declined offers to practice here.
Mayor Ben Cleveland said he received the bad news Friday afternoon, Oct. 12.
“This day started off great but it’s not turning out so great,” he said shaking his head. “What is it with doctors and Digby? Getting doctors here is the most frustrating thing we haven’t yet accomplished.”
The seven doctors visited the area on Friday, Oct. 5 with the mayor, the site manager for Digby General Hospital, Hubert d’Entremont and a representative of South West Health.
They toured the hospital and Tideview, schools, recreation facilities and visited Bear River.
He said the doctors were all in their 30s or 40s and from Iran and Sri Lanka.
“They asked some questions I hadn’t been asked before,” said the mayor. “One of them was interested in our crime rate, another was interested in our water supply.”
The doctors were looking for a place to practice under Nova Scotia’s Clinical Assessment for Practice Program. That program allows foreign-trained doctors to gain certification here by practicing under a mentor. Dr. John Black has volunteered to be that mentor in the Digby area.
Under that program doctors must locate in one of seven areas the province has designated as “underserviced”.
Digby is one of those sites.
Cleveland says two of the doctors who visited expressed an interest in coming to Digby.
South West Nova District Health Authority made offers of employment to both of them, but by the end of the day Friday, Oct. 12, both had declined the offers.
Cleveland says one of the doctors asked for help finding her spouse employment in the area. He says they found a part-time job for him and then entered into some discussion about the possibility of incentive to make up for the lack of full time employment.
Those discussions were still underway when the doctor withdrew her expression of interest.
The mayor doesn't expect any other more expressionos of interest from that group of doctors. He was planning to sit down with Digby’s site manager on Monday, Oct. 15 to discuss the possibility of future visits and what can be done differently.
“And after the election, I want to have a long hard discussion with council about what we need to be doing differently,” said Cleveland. “What we’ve been doing hasn’t worked. What do we try next?”
Meanwhile the mayor says all the bad news for Digby has had some positive side effects.
He says he has personally received calls from two doctors, one from Halifax, who are interested in practicing "some" in the Digby area.