Nova Scotia

Tories promise to open medical clinic for veterans

Tory Leader Jamie Baillie says if his party wins the provincial election they would open a veterans-specific medical clinic in Halifax.

Clinic would offer vets a place to go when they need any kind of medical attention

PC Leader Jamie Baillie said veterans need to be treated for their wounds, both seen and unseen. (CBC)

Roland Lawless says an emergency department sometimes isn't the right place for a veteran in need of medical care.

Lawless, himself a veteran who has chronic pain and PTSD, said he avoids the ER at all costs, even if it means waiting weeks or months to see his doctor.

"The emergency rooms present every trigger that could possibly trigger a person with an operational stress injury," he said.

"Whether it's screaming children, whether it's bloody hands, bloody feet, it's there. The sights, the sounds ... If I'm going in to get my wrist looked at, the last thing I want is my head to be injured while I'm getting my wrist looked at."

Clinic would be based at Camp Hill

It's why Lawless has advocated for a veterans-specific medical clinic and why on Friday he was in Halifax to endorse a plan put forward by Tory Leader Jamie Baillie.

Baillie said the PCs, if they form government following the May 30 election, will spend $1.75 million a year for the clinic, which would be based at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building in Halifax, and be open to all veterans.

Roland Lawless, a veteran and advocate for a walk-in clinic for veterans, speaks at a campaign event with Tory Leader Jamie Baillie. (CBC)

The 24-hour-a-day clinic could act as a site emergency departments could refer veterans to, said Baillie, and offer support for both physical and mental injuries. He said the space for the site exists now in Camp Hill and would require minor renovations, which are built into his budget.

"We owe our veterans proper care and treatment for their wounds, both seen and unseen," said Baillie.

Job opportunities and support

For Lawless, who has championed the idea, the clinic would present a welcoming environment for veterans where they would receive support and help from other veterans who understand their issues.

Medical staff could also be drawn from the veteran community, he said, creating employment opportunities.

"When it's veteran led and veterans are standing at the door standing by ready to guide someone through the medical system, that becomes crucial," said Lawless.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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