Nova Scotia

Walk-in clinic suggested for New Waterford hospital

Faced with frequent closures of their emergency room, some New Waterford residents are suggesting a walk-in clinic.

District health official not so keen

Faced with frequent closures of their emergency room, some New Waterford residents are suggesting a walk-in clinic.

The idea came up several times during a public meeting Thursday to discuss the troubles at New Waterford Consolidated Hospital. The emergency department was closed 69 times in 2009 due largely to staffing shortages.  It's also been closed 20 times already this year.

Many people in the crowd of 100 said a daytime walk-in clinic would help reduce the number of non-urgent cases and ease the pressure on the emergency department.

But John Malcom, CEO of the Cape Breton District Health Authority, dismissed the idea, saying these clinics don't provide complete care. He called them the "McDonald's of family medicine."

"They'd love to see you every day," Malcom said, "because it's, 'ching, ching, ching.'

"You can make more money by working in a walk-in clinic. You don't have to look after really sick people because you can send them to the ER. You don't deliver preventative care.

"It's like going constantly to McDonald's as the place to eat. Walk-in clinics — the public loves them but they're a lousy way to deliver primary care."

Nevertheless, Malcom said, all comments made at the public session will be passed along to district staff and Nova Scotia's minister of health.

The doctor hired to review the province's troubled emergency health system said Thursday that there's no need to close smaller emergency departments.

In his interim report, Dr. John Ross called for standards and better use of staff across the province.

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