The couple of Digby’s dreams.
In their 30s, he wants to return to Nova Scotia to practice medicine, she’s a school teacher, expecting their first child this spring.
He’s interested in hiking and photography. She asked about opportunities to get involved in the community and about activities for children.
Digby’s mayor Ben Cleveland took a prospective doctor and his wife for a tour of town on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
“I did things a little differently this time,” says Cleveland. “We usually host a reception for them up at the hospital but this time I took them out into the community to meet the people and see the area.”
The mayor dropped in on couples in a similar age-bracket with young families of their own.
Over and over again, the Digby residents told the young visitors that Digby needs them.
“To the point some of them were almost begging,” says the mayor.
The doctor would not be coming under any return of service program that would limit his choices of location to underserviced areas like Digby. Rather the mayor says the doctor is interested in returning to Nova Scotia because he is aware of the need for physicians here.
“He’s under no pressure to go anywhere, so my approach was just to sell the community to them,” says Cleveland. “I wanted to let them know this was a great place to live.”
The young doctor told the mayor he wants to start practicing by June, wants to make his decision this spring and come house hunting in Nova Scotia in April.
The mayor says no one talked about incentive packages and he said the time for that is if and when the doctor expresses some more interest in the community.
The town and the district councils are currently considering a request from South West Health to set aside $60,000 a year each for doctor recruitment. The Digby and Area Charitable Foundation has already agreed to that amount.
The municipality is on record as offering $20,000 per year to any doctor who’ll come here but the town withdrew their standing offer when they committed to fund 10 per cent of the new health centre. The mayor says he hopes town council will make a decision on South West Health’s proposal by the end of this month.
The mayor said most of the other Digby people who met the couple were optimistic about Digby’s chances.
“I try not to get my hopes up,” says Cleveland. “The visit went well and they seem interested but until they commit, we’re just going to keep working on other doctors.”