Is the NSHA anti woman?

A rash of resignations within the ranks of doctors makes me wonder if the Nova Scotia Health Authority is anti-woman?

I know the CEO Janet Knox is a woman, but that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t subscribe to the theory that women are more benevolent bosses. Think Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi et al.

The American author Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” I think we can judge the NSHA by its actions towards female doctors.

In 2013, while Knox was CEO of the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority, she and then-VP of Medicine Dr. Lynn Harrigan, refused to find funds to pay for Dr. Andrea Veljkovic’s services. Veljkovic is an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in treating foot and ankle issues caused by diabetes. She travelled around SW Nova performing surgeries in Kentville, Middleton, Yarmouth and Bridgewater. Knox said Kentville was allocated five orthopedic surgeons and Veljkovic made six. Basically funding Veljkovic’s practice broke a quota. So there was no money for a sixth surgeon. There was obviously the patient-need, but not the executive imperative.

Dr. Veljkovic was forced to leave Nova Scotia. Her husband, who was a respirologist, left with her.

This was silo-thinking. At the same time orthopedic surgeons in Halifax were complaining of having 13,000 people on their surgical wait-lists.

The next long-running issue was how Capital Health, followed by the NSHA, abused Dr. Gabrielle Horne. The two health authorities spent over $10 million taxpayer dollars fighting Dr. Horne in court. Dr. Horne prevailed in her first case, then the NSHA went back to court to fight the damages Dr. Horne was awarded. The NSHA spent several million to save a few hundred thousand dollars. Dr. Horne received a little less, but was still found by the court to be the injured party. The NSHA didn’t explain why they felt the imperative to prolong this legal case. The cynical suggest it was to prolong Dr. Horne’s pain and inconvenience. (The story is here: )

In June 2018 Dr. Stephanie Langley stepped down as site lead at Northside hospital.

In December the story broke that Dr. Jennie MacGillivary, who had been performing surgeries at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish as well as procedures at Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital for 12 years was suddenly out of a job. At both facilities. The NSHA and Department of Health turned a deaf ear to MacGillivary’s complaints about job burnout.

In September 2017 Doctors Nova Scotia warned the NSHA about physician burnout. At the time of that warning, former NSHA VP of Medicine Dr. Lynn Harrigan said, “The first thing is to recognize that physicians are subject to burnout, there’s no question about that physicians are overworked. Physicians are stressed and so you have to look individually at the cause for burnout and also if there is a systematic problem for burnout, we have to address that as well.”

In MacGillivary’s case the NSHA addressed it by removing any hospital position for her.

On February 5th, the public and professionals in Cape Breton learned that Dr. Carol Critchley had resigned as lead for family medicine at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. The previous month Dr. Meaghan Keating quit as zone leader for family medicine.

A colleague said Critchley, who had held her position for several years ‘received little compensation or recognition in return for the extra administrative work’.

The story is here:

When Dr. Jeanne Ferguson criticized the declining access to care in Cape Breton, her comments were dismissed as “inflammatory”. Ferguson maintains that likening the situation in Cape Breton to Third World conditions was “somewhat understated”.

Male physicians haven’t seemed to generate headlines and hard feelings on the scale of these female doctors.

I asked several Nova Scotian physicians if they thought the NSHA was anti-woman.

One physician thought the women are “being targeted” for speaking out. Another thought the NSHA might be “indifferent”. A third said, “If anything, I suspect the men just put up and shut up and move on.”

The NSHA may be a woman-run organization, but that doesn’t mean it’s a women-friendly place to work. Otherwise we wouldn’t be losing so many accomplished professionals.



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1 Response to Is the NSHA anti woman?

  1. Bernie says:

    The facts speak for themselves, and the facts are well presented here. Nero (McNeil) is fiddling while Rome (our health care system) is burning. The neglect and/or incompetence is astounding.

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