Two-tiered health in the Valley

The doctor shortage in Middleton, which is causing Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital to close their ER more than normal, doesn’t make sense.

In an article in this morning’s Chronicle Herald, we learn that doctors working the Middleton ER are paid $55 an hour less than a doctor working the ER in Kentville. Why?

Both ERs are run by the same health authority: Annapolis Valley Health. AVH is a health authority which traditionally spends 80% more on administration than the national average. They have the money to cart food across Kentville from the hospital kitchens to the corporate bunker in the industrial park for a subsidized lunch program for 160 executives and white collar workers, but nor for wage parity for the medical staff. What are their priorities?

Presumably doctors in Nova Scotia have a basic level of professional training. So why not a basic pay rate? The same should apply to nurses. Why do we have wage disparity among medical professionals, not only within the province, but within a local health authority?

I have read articles where health authority executives claim that if administrators aren’t competitively paid there will be no one to manage hospitals, that there will be an executive shortage within health care. Funny that they don’t see that translating to front line medical professionals. Maybe the cavalier, uneven way some health authorities treat their professionals is the real reason certain areas of the province are under-serviced by doctors?

You do have to wonder about the decision-making process of health care executives and how aware they are of the front-line issues or even their human resources management. Until the recent contract arbitration, Capital Health had nurses working under two different contracts, earning different rates of pay. At AVH they’ve cut back on hours and services offered by their satellite community clinics in Berwick and Wolfville which forces more patients to go to hospital in Kentville for treatment. Yet at the same time they have cut back on nursing positions in the Kentville ER and other departments in that hospital. That means more patients and fewer staff to see and treat them.

And now we learn doctors working in Middleton earn less than those in Kentville. Is the health authority suggesting these doctors are less educated and skilled? Or are the residents of Middleton and its catchment area less important to the executives in the Kentville industrial park?

Maybe the problem is having executives cloistered in an industrial park. Perhaps their focus is blurred by their surroundings. Maybe being located in an industrial park inspires them to act as manufacturers versus actually focusing on providing care for living, breathing, hurt people? If they moved into their duplicate offices at the regional hospital they might actually see patients and communicate better with staff.

I don’t blame doctors for not agreeing to be taken advantage of by this health authority. This is an example of a two-tiered health system where residents of Kentville get better access to health care than residents of Middleton. Let’s have CEO Janet Knox and Premier Dexter explain this discrepancy.

The full article is here:

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1 Response to Two-tiered health in the Valley

  1. WOOF says:

    Their explanation will be to raise the pay for the Middleton doctors by $55 an hour.

    The doctors in Kentville make almost $200 hourly, regardless of their qualifications. They could be a basic MD or a specialized emergency room doctor, the latter attending school for an additional four years to become the specialist emergency room doctor.

    Ah, but what’s an additional $55 an hour…we got admintrators making that and they’re worth every penny – just ask one. Oh,I forgot, they don’t take questions.

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