By Amy Woolvett
It came as an unpleasant surprise to local councils when they went to fight the loss of the overnight position at Roseway Hospital and were told there will be further positions cut from hospital staffing.
“We will not accept this and we will fight this,” said mayor for the Town of Shelburne, Alan Delaney. “We are a growing community and now is not the time to be cutting services.”
He worried that with the upcoming aquaculture and Irving jobs coming that the hospital should be growing in services and not cutting back.
All five municipal units from Shelburne County were represented at the meeting.
“The municipal units all speak with one voice,” said Delaney. “We are not satisfied with this…it is wrong.”
He said the town was not happy with finding out about the cuts third hand rather than directly from South West Health.
The units met with representatives from South West Health to ask them not to cut services from Roseway.
“We were basically told that their decision was made and they were not going to change their minds,” said Kirk Cox CAO for Shelburne municipality.
Delaney and the other leaders of the municipal units say they will take the matter directly to the minister of health.
Fraser Mooney, communications director for South West Health said that during this challenging budget year they had to find $3.6-million to offset budget pressures.
“We have been directed by the Department of Health and Wellness to achieve a balanced budget while at the same time protecting direct patient care,” he said. “This means any cuts can’t impact patient care at the bedside or in areas like the emergency department.”
He said that they estimate a reduction of 34 full time positions across South West Health.
Of these 34 positions 6.5 of these positions are located at Roseway Hospital.
The first 1.3 represents the loss of the switchboard overnight position.
“The rest are currently vacant and we have not been able to fill plus one who has retired and will not be replaced,” said Mooney.
“The decision to reduce staffing is never an easy decision to make,” he said. “But at Roseway, the majority of positions being reduced were already vacant or not being filled on a permanent basis.”
He said that the cuts would not impact the emergency department.
But Mayor Delaney believed the cuts would have an impact.
“We struggled for too long to keep the ER open,” he said. “They say it won’t affect patient care but I beg to differ …hopefully representatives at the cabinet level will see the error of this decision.”
The town wrote a letter strongly advising against cuts to the hospital.
“If South West Health has a 10-year plan for the Roseway Hospital it should be one of expansion, appropriate for an area experiencing rapid economic growth and anticipating a reversal of longstanding population trends,” it read. “Any financial savings resulting from the planned elimination of overnight services will be negated by the costs of re-establishing these same services to keep pace with the future growth of our community. Now is not the time for South West Health to balance its books on the backs of Shelburne area residents.”
Edgar Allison, fire chief for Shelburne said that the past month was a frenzy of trying to switch over their dispatch services to an out of town operation after learning that the dispatch services at Roseway were to be cut.
“It was quite a shock,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of time to think about how it was to work out.”
They were given a month to find a new dispatch based out of Yarmouth. Allison said that is exactly how long it took.
“We were lucky to have most of the equipment we needed,” he said. “It’s sad really and we don’t like it. It is not going to be personal anymore …just business.”