Nova Scotia

Shelburne ER to shut at least 6 days this month, worrying residents

Closures of the Roseway Hospital emergency room in Shelburne just keep coming and area residents are concerned and frustrated.

Frustration continues, but Health Department says it's working on a solution to take strain off ER

The emergency room at Roseway Hospital will be closed at least six times this month. (iStock)

Closures of the Roseway Hospital emergency room in Shelburne just keep coming, a pattern that is concerning and frustrasting area residents.

The hospital, which serves about 15,000 people in Shelburne County, has announced the ER will be shut for six days in August, but other unexpected closures are also likely. The provincial health authority says there aren't enough doctors and nurses to fill the necessary shifts.

The most recent closure is from 8 a.m. today until 8 a.m. tomorrow at a hospital that has seen a dramatic increase over the past year in the number of the days the ER is shut.

It's a worry for many, including Loman Ayer, who has terminal fatty liver cancer.

"The day is going to come or the night's going to come when I need the ER services and it's not going to be open," he said.

"This could happen in the middle of the night, let's say January, and there's a snow storm on and the only way I'm going to get help is to go to Liverpool or Bridgewater. That weighs heavy on my mind."

The drive to either hospital is an hour away. Ayer said he doesn't know what to expect as he nears the end of his life, but a lack of emergency services is not something he should have to worry about.

'This is crucial'

The NDP MLA for the area, Sterling Belliveau, says the situation is unacceptable.

"A lot of people says, 'Does the minister know people live west of Bridgewater?'" Belliveau said. "This is crucial, important infrastructure and the Roseway Hospital [ER] needs to be open."

Liberal Health Minister Leo Glavine has repeatedly promised a solution, but Belliveau and Ayer are skeptical.

"He's alluded to the fact that he's going to do something someday, but it's just a broken record," Belliveau said.

"My big question for the minister is: " Why are you just sitting on your fingers, telling us fairy tales all along?" Ayer said.

As his death draws closer, Ayer says he'll move to Halifax to be near the health care he needs.

"I don't really want to do that because I've lived here a long time," he said. "I know a lot of people here and there's a lot of support here, but the medical support is not here because the ER is not open all the time."

Ayer says he's fortunate he can afford the move, but not everyone can. 

In a written statement to CBC News, the Department of Health and Wellness said: "Access to emergency care across the province, including Shelburne area, is very important to the department."

It says the ER closures are due to staffing challenges and it's close to "finalizing a proposal for a primary health care clinic in Shelburne," which might take some of the pressure off the ER.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yvonne Colbert

Consumer Watchdog

Yvonne Colbert has been a journalist for nearly 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the provincial legislature. These days she helps consumers navigate an increasingly complex marketplace and avoid getting ripped off. She invites story ideas at yvonne.colbert@cbc.ca

now