New Middleton council gets down to work

Heather Killen
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Committee formed to address emergency closures at SMH

John Himmelman, the newest member of Middleton council is sworn in at the November 5 meeting. He joins Mayor Calvin Eddy, councillors from left Gail Smith, Marc Britney, Melinda DenHaan, Darrin Boates, and deputy mayor Dan Smith.

By Heather Killen

The Spectator


The Town of Middleton was quick to get down to business on November 5 following the oaths of council.  One of the first action items for the council’s new term was to approve a new ad hoc committee formed to look into emergency department closures.

Councillor Marc Britney suggested that in recent months, concerns over emergency department closures at Soldier’s Memorial Hospital have frequently been raised in council and that it could be time for the town to take a more active role in helping to resolve this situation.

“Hopefully this committee won’t be needed for long and that the problems will soon be resolved,” he said. “The committee can serve as a communication link between the community and the health authority.”

On Friday, Annapolis Valley Health advised the public there would be two more overnight closures starting November 10 at 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. on November 11; and again on November 13 from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.


Frequent Closures

A chronic doctor shortage has forced the emergency department to close frequently over recent months. In June, council sent a letter of concern to the minister of health after the department was shut down more than it was open during the latter half of the month.

At that time council hoped the arrival of a new doctor would help stabilize service, but it also recognized that these interruptions are part of a larger, long-term problem that involves pay disparity among hospitals.

Under provincial contracts, regional hospitals can offer emergency department doctors higher salaries than what is offered at the smaller hospitals. Between July 2 and Nov. 5, the department had been closed 13 times for 12-hour shifts.


Resident Upset

One Middleton resident was so angry at the closures she wrote a letter to Premier Darrell Dexter last week.

“When our own medical staff was covering the emerengency room/emergency department it was NEVER closed. Not once,” said Linda Haven. “Now that there is this fancy new system of ‘a pool of Doctors’ it seems to be closed much more frequently. So what you say -- it's only a rural area. We'll in this rural area, many people do not have any doctor, the majority of the residents are seniors, many do not drive -- but life is precious to them also.”

“WHEN will we have reliable  24/7 emergency services available again at Soldiers' Memorial Hospital in Middleton?”

Organizations: Soldier’s Memorial Hospital, New Middleton council, Memorial Hospital in Middleton

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Recent comments

  • Kevin Coldwell
    November 19, 2012 - 17:51

    The problem with our medical system i believe started because of a couple of reasons; I) the high cost of the education to become a doctor and 2) the private practice of medical centers which takes the doctors out of the hospitals and creates a buracretatic system of health care at the expense of the average person. Having said that I think my second statement is linked with the first one and believe doctors are possibley victims of the way our medical system is set up. Overall as a taxpayer I don't think it makes sense to have a big hospital without doctor care full time from within.