Replacing Dr. Westby: Weymouth committee may hire own recruiter

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on October 31, 2015

WEYMOUTH – The people of Weymouth want a doctor – or two.

That was the message from speaker after speaker at an information meeting at Weymouth Consolidated School on Oct. 29 to discuss the future of the Weymouth Medical Centre now that family physician Dr. Don Westby has retired.

“There is a very good probability that we could be losing our ability to replace our retiring doctor,” said Rod LeFort at the beginning of the meeting. “This is an information meeting and, let’s be clear, we’re not going to solve any problems here tonight and no one is going home with a warm fuzzy feeling.”

Clare Digby MLA Gordon Wilson, Warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby Linda Gregory and village commissioner Irwin Gaudett all gave brief remarks.

Guadett in his remarks said the community had invested over $650,000 in the Weymouth Medical Centre.

“It’s there,” he said referring to the building with room for three doctors and other health care providers. “It’s there. They just have to find the people to put in it.”

The audience also heard from Dr. Alenia Kysela of the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) about the challenges of doctor recruitmentand the benefits of a collaborative practice involving doctors, nurse practitioners and family practice nurses.

When the mic was opened for questions and comments from the floor, speaker after speaker told the health board that Weymouth needed a doctor – or two.

“If we can spend $25 million to rebuild a ship that sunk off Haiti in 1947, then surely we can find a few doctors for Weymouth,” said Vernon Goudey.

Delia Mullen said that it would take more than one doctor to replace Dr. Westby.

“He worked more hours than truckers are allowed to put on their trucks before they have to get some rest,” she said. “We need two doctors not just one so they don’t get swamped and leave.”

Mullen wondered why NSHA hadn’t found any doctors to serve in Weymouth yet.

“If I went into work and it took me two years to get something done, I wouldn’t have a job,” she said. “You guys need to get it in gear. Please get us a couple doctors.”

Nathan Hanna sits on the Weymouth Doctor Recruitment Committee. He asked Kysela if NHSA would stand in the way of any local recruitment efforts.

“That’s up to the municipality,” she said. “That’s their decision.”

Hanna told the Courier later that the Municipality of the District of Digby had already approved $25,000 for a recruiter to start looking for a doctor for Weymouth.

“I don’t think Weymouth is a hard place to recruit a doctor to,” said Hanna. “They (the health authority) haven’t been able to do it. But I think as long as they don’t stop us, we’ll be okay.”

Jamie Lewis, asking the last question of the night to the MLA, wanted to know what was the next step.

Wilson said he will be calling another meeting right away with the municipality, village, recruitment committee and any other interested parties.