DIGBY, N.S. – When it comes to health care for Digby area residents, Clare-Digby MLA Gordon Wilson says he’s convinced things are improving.
“If anybody thinks that health care problems in Digby are new, they’re mistaken,” Wilson said last week. “We’ve had problems here for decades and we’ve seen more doctors come and go then we have here now…We’re moving forward to a new system, a system with less silos and a focus on collaborative health centres – that’s what our new doctors coming out of school want and need.”
Wilson said the province-wide changes to the health care system were necessary.
“I’m very proud to be part of the transformational change that we’ve seen in our health care system,” he said. “It needed to happen and I’m so proud I have other partners in this community that want to look at the future, and how we can work together…I feel very optimistic about the future of health care here.”
When asked why different regions are managed differently, Wilson said Digby has lagged behind.
“Why is Meteghan different than Digby, because 16 or 18 years ago, Meteghan embraced the concept of building a health centre,” Wilson said. “I know there are people without family doctors in Clare, but the difference is the collaborative team approach.”
When asked about the ongoing concerns expressed on Facebook about health care, Wilson responded this way: “From my perspective, Facebook is not a place to go to solicit opinions, it’s not the place to go out and seek the pulse of the community.
“I truly reach out and speak to people, in the coffee shops, in the houses. Facebook is a very small echo-bubble and I caution anyone who uses that as a way to gauge the real things that are going on,” he said. “Facebook does not offer a balanced perspective.”
Asked what a balanced perspective might look like when the Digby General Hospital Emergency Department is closed overnight, Wilson chose to express his gratitude.
“I should never stand here and talk about health care without thanking the people working in the tremendous health care system that we have here in Nova Scotia,” Wilson said.
But he added he was very concerned by the rumours about the Digby hospital being closed or being downgraded into a clinic.
“That really concerns me,” Wilson said. “I don’t like rumours and especially unsubstantiated rumours. The fact is we have a regional hospital here that we’re building on and there is no plan to turn it into a clinic. The fact that we’re investing in the dialysis unit, that’s a major commitment on behalf of the province of Nova Scotia that will contribute to the sustainability of the hospital.”
When asked how the province and the Nova Scotia Health Authority could counter those rumours, Wilson agreed there was some work to do.
“I think communications is something we could do better,” he said. “But personally, I don’t think we should rest that solely on the health authority.
“We, as community leaders and as elected officials in our communities, we have a responsibility to put out there what we know,” he said. “I put monthly updates in my newsletter and I ask all of my colleagues to do the same on a daily basis.”
When asked if it was true that the province was actively seeking health practitioners for Weymouth and the Islands, Wilson said, of course.
“That’s been going on for a long time,” he said. “There were some barriers within the bureaucracy, but there are no barriers. There are no barriers to any doctor that wants to come to serve anywhere in Nova Scotia.”