It’s a start.
Officials from South West Health hope the establishment of a weekly clinic in Digby will help attract more doctors to the area.
Dr. Alan Dill of Annapolis has agreed to work one day a week out of space at Digby General Hospital. He will work with a family practice nurse who will be available the rest of the week by phone for follow up.
The clinic is set up specifically for people without a family doctor.
Dr. Alenia Kysela, chief of staff and vice president of medicine with South West Health
said she hopes the clinic can eventually be expanded to five days a week.
“Through this clinic we can provide opportunities for physicians who may not want a full-time practice to come to serve our patients in an established health care centre,” she said. “Ideally once they come here, they will want to stay.”
Dr. Dill will see patients by appointment every Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Kysela estimates there are currently 4,000 to 6,000 people in the Digby area without a family doctor. She couldn’t say how many patients Dr. Dill would be able to take on.
“But to better answer your question, Digby is underserviced by four physicians,” she said. “We need to attract that many and this is a start.”
She said while the priority of the clinic will be people with no family doctor at all, they will try to accommodate people with urgent medical conditions who aren’t up to travelling long distances to see a doctor.
Jim Morton, MLA for Kings North was in Digby on Thursday, Jan. 10 to announce the clinic on behalf of the provincial health minister Dave Wilson.
Morton said this is great news for people in the Digby area who rely on the emergency department for health care.
“The clinic may help alleviate some of the pressure on the emergency department,” said Morton. “And it may also help reduce wait times.”
The province has provided the funding for the doctor and the family practice nurse and funding is also in place if they manage to expand the clinic to five days a week.
Kysela says the clinic, which for now will operate out of space on the lower floor of Digby General, will move to the new building when it is built.
“This will be the first step toward a collaborative care model of providing service in the new health care centre, which is being developed in Digby,” she said.
Hubert d’Entremont, site manager at the Digby hospital said the family nurse will play a central role in the centre.
“She will provide that consistency of care which is so important,” he said. “A family practice nurse has a special skillset that enables her to look after the health care needs of children, adults and the aging.”
Dr. Dill was in Digby for the first clinic on Monday, Jan. 7. The family practice nurse position has not yet been filled and d’Entremont couldn’t say how long that will take.