Nurse shortage forces Liverpool dialysis patients to Halifax

Dialysis patients on Nova Scotia's South Shore are raising concerns after receiving notice a nurse shortage in their community is forcing them to travel to Halifax for treatment.

Patients concerned about 4-hour round trip to Halifax on winter roads

Dialysis patients on Nova Scotia's South Shore are raising concerns after receiving notice a nurse shortage in their community is forcing them to travel to Halifax for treatment.

Gerald Burgess, 81, and Burnell Allison, 74, both live in South West Port Mouton. It's a 20-minute drive to their usual dialysis treatment centre at Queens General Hospital in Liverpool.

"I don't like the idea of travelling to Halifax, not one little bit," said Burgess.

"I'm 81 years old now and I don't feel like doing too much travelling."

Earlier this month, Burgess and Allison received notices they would have to make the two-hour trek to Halifax due to a nurse shortage at Queens General Hospital.

The Capital District Health Authority, which runs the dialysis clinic in Liverpool, said a nurse shortage means the 15 dialysis patients currently treated in Liverpool will have to travel to Halifax every five weeks on a rotating basis.

John Gillis, a spokesman for the Capital District Health Authority, said the change is necessary because a registered nurse has gone on maternity leave and the health authority is no longer able to use casuals to cover the shifts.

"We've had a vacancy with one of the two RNs that provide coverage for some of the more complex patients in that area, so we're going to need to begin to rotate some of them through Halifax while we try to fill that vacancy," said John Gillis, a spokesman for the Capital District Health Authority.

Neither Burgess nor Allison are in the best health and they both said the treatment makes them feel sick. They said it's asking too much of them to add the long drive to Halifax on winter roads — not to mention the added costs associated with the nearly four-hour round-trip journey.

The Capital District Health Authority has offered patients accommodation in Halifax, but neither Burgess nor Allison want to stay in the city for a week and said they'll drive back home each day after their treatment.

The registered nurse job was posted but officials with the Capital District Health Authority said they could not fill it. The position has now been reposted.

"The pool of casual registered nurses we have available is beginning to shrink and we do have to cover needs in other parts of the province as well," said Gillis.

"We just can't be certain that we'd be able to continue providing coverage as needed."

Allison is slated to make his first trip to Halfiax for dialysis treatment this Sunday.

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