The family of a 91-year-old man who lives in rural Nova Scotia is scrambling to find him primary care.
“Grampy had a stroke nine-years ago. He sees Dr. Sheehy every two weeks in regards to his chronic pain in his leg, from his neuropathy, from his stroke, his diabetes, his pacemaker,” said Kerri Bogle, the granddaughter of Lloyd Bogle.
For the past few decades, Lloyd Bogle has received care from his family doctor in Shubenacadie, N.S.
But after several years of calling on the provincial government to provide more support for rural health-care, Dr. David Sheehy is calling it quits and closing his clinic’s doors in April.
In August 2017, Sheehy says he wrote to Health Minister Randy Delorey asking him for a meeting to discuss his concerns and the possibility of him having to retire early if more support wasn’t provided.
Sheehy says that support never came.
Now, Kerri Bogle is preparing for her grandfather to lose his family physician and the health consequences she expects to come with it.
“Once he retires, there’s no one to follow up on those services. Right down to his foot care, he gets VON foot care for some ulcers that he randomly gets and without physician orders, he’ll have to go to the emergency department to even just get those things adjusted that,” Bogle said.
The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) says it’s actively working to recruit physicians to the East Hants region, where a chronic doctor shortage has been identified.
Sheehy is one of several doctors that have retired, doctors in Elmsdale and Kennetcook are also closing clinics.
The authority says it’s working with the community to try and attract physicians and that there have been a few who have viewed the area but none have committed to opening a practice.
Delorey says he can’t comment on specific details surrounding Sheehy’s case but he is ‘confident’ a new contract with Doctors Nova Scotia will help address widespread physician shortages.
“I think we’ve done, actually, a lot as it relates to putting in supports. I think one of the biggest ones is the work that was done to establish the new master agreement to help with recruitment and retention concerns that were raised,” Delorey said.
The new contract makes doctors in Nova Scotia the highest-paid in Atlantic Canada.
However, those changes are just being rolled out and Bogle says her family doesn’t have time for the shortages to be filled.
She says the health effects caused by the shortage problem are here and now. Especially for elderly patients like her grandfather.
“I think the biggest impact is things will just go unmanaged. What will happen is people will probably just be so unmanaged that it will lead to crisis where then they have to be seen in the emergency department,” she said.