Monday marked the first time in 73 years the doors closed at the Queens General Hospital emergency department.
A release from the Nova Scotia Health Authority attributed the closure to lack of physician availability.
The ER closure took many residents by surprise, but Western Zone Medical Executive Director Dr. Cheryl Pugh says they’re not uncommon.
“Unfortunately, it’s not an unusual occurrence across the province, to experience a closure,” said Pugh. “Although we work hard to prevent these closures from happening, it is unfortunately, a sign that we are working hard to support our people who are unavailable for a variety of reasons.”
Residents of neighbouring Shelburne County know all too well the difficulty of keeping an emergency room open.
Roseway Hospital struggles regularly to find staff to keep their ER up and running.
Pugh wouldn’t elaborate on what specifically dictated the need to close the Queens ER for the first time since it opened in 1948.
“In this particular instance, we did not have all the pieces of the puzzle to provide access to safe care which necessitated a closure at that site,” said Pugh.
She says the health authority makes every effort to ensure every emergency room across Nova Scotia remains open.
“Any upcoming closures, we reach out, far and wide across the zone and the province, in an attempt to recruit individuals who are interested in covering that particular shift, when it’s a physician issue.”
Pugh says Queens residents can still receive emergency care at one of the three major hospitals in the Western Zone. That would mean a one to three hour drive to either: Bridgewater, Kentville or Yarmouth.
Pugh says in the event someone needed to be taken by ambulance, paramedics would communicate with EHS dispatch to determine which location was appropriate depending on the type and severity of the medical emergency.
The emergency department at Queens General Hospital is closed again Tuesday night from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Anyone with urgent medical needs should call 911. To speak to a registered nurse about general health advice and information, call 811.
The Mental Health Crisis Line can also be reached anytime by calling 1-888-429-8167.
Reported by Ed Halverson
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