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Continued closures of Shelburne Roseway Hospital emergency department cause frustration, concern and anger

['Roseway hospital.']
['Roseway hospital.']

SHELBURNE, N.S. – As Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall was writing a letter last Friday outlining her ongoing concerns and frustrations about continued closures of the Roseway hospital’s emergency department, outside she could hear the sirens of an ambulance.

The emergency department was closed, yet again, and her heart sank, yet again.

“I’m listening to the ambulance and I’m thinking where it is going? And I thought I hope wherever it’s going it’s not critical,” she said.

The ongoing closures – most often due to physician unavailability ­– don’t just concern Mattatall, they anger her.

“They have the nerve to say sorry for any inconvenience. A closed street or store is an inconvenience, not a closed ER,” she said. “It’s just a continuum of excuses – doctor shortage or nurse shortage. Well, fix it. Hire some doctors.”

Mattatall couldn’t believe the list of closures sent out by the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) for the Thanksgiving long weekend. The emergency department closed Friday at 6:00 a.m. and reopened at 8 a.m. Saturday. It closed again on Saturday at 6 p.m. and reopened at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

It was then supposed to close at 6 p.m. Sunday and not reopen until 8 a.m. Tuesday. However, on Friday, Oct. 7, NSHA said a locum physician had come forward to provide emergency department coverage at Roseway hospital on Monday night. This meant that after closing at 6 p.m. Sunday the emergency department would reopen at 8 p.m. Monday, as opposed to only reopening the following morning as had originally been indicated.

Mattatall said people in rural parts of the province shouldn’t have to deal with the ongoing stress of whether their hospital’s emergency department will be there for them if something happens. To the decision makers in the province she says imagine being in a situation with a life threatening illness or an emergency, “and they have to hope that they can get in an ambulance and get somewhere where somebody might be able to help them, and that somewhere is going to be at least an hour away.”

No matter how hard you try to do the right thing, make a community accessible, inviting and all of that, we constantly have to fight against the province,” said Mattatall, who feels there is not enough recognition given to the rural parts of the province and their importance.


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