Nova Scotia

North Sydney urgent care centre now open five days a week

People needing urgent health care in Cape Breton will have more options now that an urgent care clinic in North Sydney is moving from being open four days a week to five.

Dr. Joan Salah says despite a physician shortage, a local doctor stepped up and clinic will open Wednesdays

Premier Tim Houston tours the new urgent care centre in the Northside Hospital with doctors Joan Salah and Stephanie Langley. The clinic is expanding its hours after three months of operation. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

An urgent health-care clinic in North Sydney is increasing its hours after only three months of operation.

The Northside urgent treatment centre is now open on Wednesdays, starting today.

Dr. Joan Salah, co-lead for family medicine in Nova Scotia Health's Eastern Zone, said the clinic has already helped more than 1,500 people — and the demand continues to grow.

"We knew that that would be the case all along, but yeah, our clinic fills, honestly, usually by about 10:15, 10:30 every day," she said.

Despite a shortage of physicians, another doctor stepped up, allowing the clinic to be open five days a week instead of four, Salah said.

"Sometimes a change is as good as a rest, so I think a lot of office-based family doctors do enjoy being able to leave their office periodically and practice a different kind of medicine."

The emergency department at the Northside General Hospital in North Sydney, N.S., has been replaced by an urgent treatment centre that is so busy, it is increasing its hours of operation. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The clinic is located in the former emergency department of the Northside General Hospital.

It provides non-emergency care by appointment only for things like aches and sprains or simple fractures.

The clinic, which launched in November, is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

It was opened for patients with or without a family doctor to take some of the pressure off the health-care system.

Last month, nearly 83,000 Nova Scotians were on a provincial wait list to get a family doctor.

Salah said if there were more doctors, the urgent treatment clinic could be open even longer hours.

Call for appointment

People needing urgent care are asked to call 902-794-8966 first to make an appointment, or turn up and a nurse will book them an appointment that day or the next day.

The province has also opened an urgent care centre in Parrsboro. More information is available on both sites here.

Nova Scotia Health says those needing emergency care should still call 911 or go to an emergency room.

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