Nova Scotia

'Closed more than it's open': Protesters slam ER closures at North Sydney hospital

After finding out their hospital's emergency room would only be open 16 days next month, North Sydney, N.S., residents let the provincial government know their feelings at a protest Saturday afternoon.

Northside General Hospital's emergency room to be open only 16 days in May, say protest organizers

According to the rally organizer, the emergency room at Northside General Hospital will only be open for 16 days in May. (Joan Weeks/CBC)

After finding out their hospital's emergency room would only be open 16 days next month, North Sydney, N.S., residents let the provincial government know their feelings at a protest Saturday afternoon.

More than 100 protesters marched through town from the Irving Mainway to MLA Eddie Orell's office to voice their anger about frequent ER closures at Northside General Hospital.

The March for Health Care, organized by the Save Our Services Group, included speakers who told of their experiences with health care.

Kathy Hayden of North Sydney said she took part in the protest because the emergency department is often closed when she needs help. (Joan Weeks / CBC)

Kathy Hayden, of North Sydney, joined the rally in her motorized wheelchair. She said her multiple illnesses sometimes require emergency care at Northside General.

"It's closed more than it's open. It's just craziness. And the Sydney hospital is not capable of covering North Sydney, Glace Bay, everybody. It's for Sydney. Every community should have their own hospital."

Dr. Harry Pollett said many new doctors don't practise in Nova Scotia because they can pay off their education debt more quickly working in areas that pay more. (Joan Weeks/ CBC)

Dr. Harry Pollett is 76 years old and wants to retire soon from the Northside General pain clinic.

Pollett said Nova Scotia has to do more to attract new doctors because the cost of a medical education and practising has skyrocketed.

"We do have to make the system more doctor friendly if you want more doctors," he told the crowd. "If you don't do that, you're going to have continual closures of the ER's. You're going to have longer and longer waits."

Ronald Crowther, 28, has heart problems. He worries about the extra time it takes him to travel from North Sydney to Sydney when the local ER is closed.

"It takes only five minutes for me to get to the Northside General, but 22 minutes to get to the Cape Breton Regional," he said. "An extra 17 minutes is something I might not have next time."

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