Nova Scotia

Nursing-home doctor too costly: minister

Nova Scotia cannot afford to keep a family doctor working full-time at a single nursing home, the province's health minister says.

Pilot project in Eastern Passage to end

Nova Scotia cannot afford to keep a family doctor working full-time at a single nursing home, the province's health minister says.

Maureen MacDonald defends a decision to pull a one-of-a-kind program at Ocean View Manor in Eastern Passage.

MacDonald said the pilot project cost $500,000 over three years and didn't meet the goal of reducing transfers to emergency rooms.

"This is a model that's not done anywhere else in Canada, and there's a reason for it. This is kind of a Mercedes when in fact we probably need something more like a Malibu or a Honda," she told CBC News on Monday.

The long-term care facility hired the doctor to work there four days a week. It meant that nearly 200 frail seniors would no longer have to leave the building for appointments.

Dr. Barry Clark, medical director of continuing care for the Capital District Health Authority, said the pilot project was a good fit for Ocean View because there were few doctors in the area.

He said preliminary reports showed that it was "excellent" program.

"From a cost-benefit analysis, it's fairly cheap and the outcomes look great," he told CBC last week. "There isn't any aspect I've seen that detracts from the quality that we've seen."

Same resources

But MacDonald said it's an "extremely expensive" program that would cost too much to expand to nursing homes around the province.

"It hasn't taken away the need to have resources in any other part of the system because the number of transfers continued to be the same or possibly higher," she said.

Since the province can't fund a doctor in every facility, it has to stop doing it for one, she added.

MacDonald said it would also be difficult to find enough doctors to work in every nursing home.

Another pilot project involving nurse practitioners is underway at the Northwood centre in Halifax.

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