When Faye Power got a letter from her family doctor at the South End Community Clinic in Halifax, it came as a surprise. Her doctor was relatively young, and she had hoped that she would be there to give her care for as long as she needed.
All four doctors at the Southend Family Practice, located in the Halifax Professional Centre on Spring Garden Road, closed their practices as of Aug. 30, which will leave more than 4,000 patients without a primary care provider.
In a letter to patients, Dr. Maria Sampson said “lack of support” was a contributing factor.
Power recently suffered a health scare, where she was diagnosed with kidney disease. Knowing something was wrong, and her doctor out of the mix, she called the province 811 system for medical advice.
She says the service told her to “get a doctor in the next 24 hours.”
Looking for help, and hoping not to go to the emergency room, a 211 phone call gave her a list of numbers for walk-in clinics in Halifax. She wasn’t able to get into any of the ones she tried.
After a bout in hospital, Power is now on the short list for a family doctor with a new practice.
“Nova Scotia has got to find family doctors,” she said in an interview with Global News.
“We called just about everyone (walk-in clinic) that we knew about. They’re all booked up and no good to you if you need one right away.”
According to a report updated on Aug. 21, nearly 3,500 residents were added to the growing list, which has now reached 152,001 residents.
Nova Scotia’s central zone has been among the hardest hit on the wait-list, accounting for those looking to get off the list. The latest data shows that 47 per cent of those on the wait-list are in the HRM and surrounding area.
The province said it’s recruited 168 physicians in the last year.
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Nova Scotia Liberal Party Leader Zach Churchill said his party has been hearing from a number of family physicians who are unable to keep above their overhead to run their clinics.
Churchill gave the province a failing grade on its wait-list.
“We’ve seen the amount of people in need of a family doctor double overall in Nova Scotia and even triple in Halifax,” told Churchill.
“This is the first time we’ve had a family doctor issue in the capital region.”
In a statement to Global News, the Department of Health said the province still has funding open to doctors to take on higher-need patients.
Twenty-six of the nearly 800 family doctors in the province have taken on the project.
“Every person on the Need a Family Practice Registry is important, and we are working hard to make sure they are able to access the medical care they need when they need it,” spokesperson Khalehla Perrault wrote.
“It is also important for Nova Scotians to know that there are many options to access medical care, including pharmacy primary care clinics, urgent treatment centres, mobile clinics, and virtual care.”
— with files from Alex Cooke
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