While replacements have yet to be found for two doctors who are leaving or have left the Shelburne Family Practice Clinic, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) is “looking forward to a possible site visit of a potential new physician early in the new year.”
That’s the latest word from the NSHA on the physician shortage situation in Shelburne.
Physician recruitment is “still being vigorously pursued,” said NSHA spokesman Fraser Mooney in an email.
Dr. Ryan Pawsey left the Shelburne practice in November while Dr. John Keeler is retiring by the end of the year after serving the community for some 35 years, both as a family doctor and by providing inpatient care at Roseway Hospital.
“A number of patients of Dr. Keeler and Dr. Pawsey are being seen by other providers at the clinic,” said Mooney. “While we continue to work on recruitment, patients of Dr. Keeler and Dr. Pawsey who are now without a provider are encouraged to add their name to the Need a Family Practice registry. Both Dr. Keeler and Dr. Pawsey have communicated directly with their patients about this.”
A third physician at the Family Practice Clinic, Dr. Leanne DeLong, is currently on maternity leave. Mooney said a physician, who has been working with the Shelburne Family Practice team, will be taking on many of Dr. DeLong’s patients temporarily while she is on leave.
As for inpatient care at Roseway Hospital, Mooney said the NSHA continues to hold frequent meetings with NSHA zone and site leaders to develop plans for supporting inpatient care, and to manage emergency department coverage.
“Local physicians have been an active part of these meetings,” he said. “We have been developing a rotation schedule for inpatient care that includes support from physicians in neighbouring communities such as Queens County and Pubnico.”
Despite the departure of the two physicians, the Shelburne Family Practice will continue to operate full-time, said Mooney.
“It is a collaborative practice with physicians, nurse practitioners, family practice nurses and now a licensed practical nurse, who will all continue to see patients as usual.”
Mooney said in the new year, the NSHA hopes to announce plans to enhance access to the clinic for people without a primary care provider. This clinic is currently offered each Friday, and patients can call for an appointment starting on Tuesdays.
With the retirement of Dr. Keeler and the departure of Dr. Pawsey, the Shelburne Family Practice team still has eight primary care providers, including Dr. Trudy McFarlane, Dr. DeLong’s replacement, three nurse practitioners, two family practice nurses and a licensed practical nurse (LPN). They are supported by seven office staff.
Anyone without a primary care provider is encouraged to add their name to the Need a Family Practice registry online at needafamilypractice.nshealth.ca or call 811, Monday through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- IN DEPTH: Health care challenges
- Physician situation reaching critical point, says MLA
- ‘Speed-dating’ for doctors woos physicians to Nova Scotia communities
- Tignish mayor wants greater effort made to attract doctor to his community
- Weekly primary care clinic starting for Shelburne County residents without a family doctor or nurse practitioner
- New primary health care centre celebrated in Shelburne and seen as important recruitment tool
- Health-care workers shown the love in Shelburne
- New Shelburne medical clinic nearing completion
- No walk-ins at new clinic: Shelburne mayor concerned for residents without family doctors