Calls are ramping up in Nova Scotia for urgent care to be offered 24/7 at a new health clinic slated for Bayers Lake.
Nova Scotians are signing a petition hoping to see the service brought to the community to help ease the strain on overcrowded emergency rooms.
Wendy McDonald’s name is among the more than 1,300 signatures the petition has amassed so far calling for the emergency care service at the Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre.
McDonald posed the question to Health Minister Michelle Thompson last fall while attending a community conversation around health care.
Now, she’s raising her voice to help make it happen. McDonald says the Bayers Lake location is ideal for a growing population.
“We have a lot of newcomers as well, young families and seniors like myself, who could more easily access urgent care locally,” she says.
Clayton Park West MLA Rafah DiCostanzo has launched the petition for residents to sign. McDonald says the move would help to reduce long waits at emergency rooms.
“I’ve done that in the past and was frustrated with 14-hour waits,” she explains. “I think if we could share the load out in our community it would relieve the pressures for everybody.”
McDonald says she understands the barriers Nova Scotians face when it comes to accessing health care. She went years without a family doctor, but now has access to a nurse practitioner.
The community outpatient centre will include primary care, exam rooms, dialysis stations, orthopedic services and rehab.
Colin Stevenson, the Department of Health and Wellness System Integration Chief, says the site was never designed for emergency care.
“There’s no intention to change the scope to put in a 24-hour, seven days a week emergency department,” he says.
However, he’s not ruling out urgent care access in the future, saying it’s a model being adopted throughout the province.
“It does provide an access point for people who could have a need for a scheduled or unscheduled appointment for something that is an unexpected illness or injury,” he explains.
McDonald is calling on the community to help bring urgent care to the new centre.
“I think more voices are going to make a difference,” she says.
The hours of operation for the centre still haven’t been established, but it’s expected to start welcoming patients in the fall.