Nova Scotia

Sydney reaches full complement of obstetricians after years of understaffing

Dr. Gillian MacMullin, from Sydney, N.S., recently moved home to practise obstetrics and gynecology after completing her residency at Dalhousie University.

New OBGYN starts work thanks in part to family connection

Dr. Elwood MacMullin and his daughter, Dr. Gillian MacMullin. (Submitted/Erin Forsey/NSHA)

The Cape Breton Regional Hospital is now at its full complement of five obstetricians after years of being understaffed.

Dr. Gillian MacMullin, from Sydney, N.S., recently moved home to practise obstetrics and gynecology after completing her residency at Dalhousie.

"When I finished I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I was needed. And where better to go than back to your home town?" she said Monday.

Not only is MacMullin working in her home town, she's also working with her dad, Dr. Elwood MacMullin. He's a semi-retired general surgeon and the current medical director of the Cape Breton Cancer Centre. Her mother is a retired family physician.

"We certainly did encourage her to consider Cape Breton and Sydney, because of course there's been an ongoing need for obstetric and gynecological expertise," said Elwood MacMullin.

"I've watched the obstetric and gynecology department over the years struggle with very, very heavy workloads when there was only two or three of them. And I knew from talking to them that they were actively looking for years and years for help."

Being kept busy

That family experience gave Gillian a good idea of what to expect when she arrived.

"They gave me a pretty clear idea of what's it's like, how busy it is, and how needed the services are. But they also pointed out the positives: How closely knit the healthcare community is. And how much everyone will step up to help you, and be there when you need it," she said.

Since starting work, she's been kept busy.

"There's been a huge volume of patients who want to be seen, and need to be seen," she said. "So all five of us are very busy seeing people. And then with the shortage of physicians elsewhere in the province, particularly Antigonish, there's a need extending beyond Cape Breton, and we've seen a lot of those patients come to us."

There are currently two obstetrician vacancies in Antigonish, with one physician expected to start in the new year, said a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Health Authority. NSHA is actively recruiting to fill the remaining vacancy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Holly Conners is a reporter and current affairs producer who has been with CBC Cape Breton since 1998. Contact her at holly.conners@cbc.ca.

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