A medical bomb has been dropped on the people of Kings County.
In October, a doctor in New Minas closed his practice. In November patients of two Kentville doctors learned that that practice was closing at year’s end. One of the doctors has been out on medical leave for over a month and decided not to return to this practice. His practice partner opted to also leave for another practice.
Then, in the last week, another long-time Kentville doctor announced his retirement.
These four departures leave approximately 10,000 patients in Kings County without a family physician. This wave of orphaned patients, doubles the number of residents without a family physician, which equates to about a third of the residents of Kings County without a doctor. With no replacement doctors for these practices the ER at Valley Regional Hospital, clinics in Wolfville and Berwick, and the walk-in clinic in New Minas are about to get a hell of a lot busier. That’s assuming there are doctors available to work those clinics. At least one of the departing doctors also worked the Berwick clinic.
So what’s the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s plan? What has Janet Knox got up her sleeve for solving this problem? And solving it NOW! We want remedies now, not some mythical plan that kicks in after Knox retires (she reaches retirement age in the next three years – typically health care executives quickly take retirement, collect any payouts, draw their pensions, then return as high-priced consultants, thereby doubling or tripling their income overnight).
Knox has been a health executive for over a decade. I am unfamiliar of any accomplishments during her tenure at the Annapolis Valley Health Authority or the Nova Scotia Health Authority. Other than progressively moving up the corporate ladder, what has she done for patients and to improve patient outcomes?
Not having a family physician means people receive a type of superficial care because medical professionals who have no relationship with the patient, treat the illness du jour and potentially miss other long-term changes in the person’s health. I know a resident, who waited three years to find a family physician. Once she had a doctor, he found an undiagnosed lung cancer. Recently a woman suffered a stroke because eight of 12 markers for temporal arteritis went unnoticed. That patient has lost her sight. Relationships with physicians are an important part of successful diagnosis and preventive medicine.