Obstacles remain for Chester health clinic

via The Chronicle Herald

The Nova Scotia Health Authority and the province are offering financial support, but there is no guarantee a collaborative health clinic in Chester will open on time.

Those behind the Our Health Centre facility, slated to open in the fall, say they have been getting mixed signals.

A majority of its funding will come from individual donors. However, the centre also requires support from the province’s health department and health authority.

The Our Health Centre is expected to be a multi-faceted health and wellness centre designed to solve a medical care shortage in Chester.

The centre’s backers had complained Monday about a lack of communication from the health department and authority and expressed worries about hitting its target for opening.

They received a call from the Nova Scotia Health Authority later that day saying the health authority would be taking on a larger role, which may include offering additional funding.

Tricia Cochrane, the health authority’s vice-president of integrated health services, said the authority has been in constant contact with the centre.

However, Don Munroe, the centre’s board chair, said there were communication delays.

“Everyone was so busy that we weren’t communicating the way we would like,” he said.

Munroe said that conversation has resumed and he is optimistic that all will proceed amicably.

Cochrane said the reason for the delay was, in part, due to the larger role the centre’s backers see for the authority.

“There have been delays in sorting out what our role and commitment can be.”

In terms of funding, Nova Scotia’s ministry of health has committed a one-time grant of $500,000 for the centre.

When spokesman Tony Kiritsis was asked about the delays on Monday, he said the department wasn’t aware of any on their end and that operational delays rested with the health authority.

If the authority provides funding, Cochrane said it would be for the centre, including public health, mental health and continuing care staff.

A further holdup involves securing the necessary number of nurses and physicians to join the collaborative care team.

Cochrane said there are a number of family physicians and nurse practitioners in the community, and the goal has been to create a desirable space in which all care providers could “come together under one roof.”

But just because this space exists, doesn’t necessarily mean it will attract doctors to run it and work there.

“Family physicians are in private practice and make their own decision in where they want to work and how they want to work,” Cochrane said on Tuesday.

However, with the tentative Oct. 15 opening about three months away, Munroe said “we are anxious to get going as quickly as we can.”

This would mean any opening date for the collaborative care clinic will need to be flexible.

Cochrane said they first need to find out whether or not physicians are interested in doing this.

In some cases, the health authority needs to build new relationships with family physicians who may not think that now is the best time to make a switch over to a collaborative clinic.

“That’s a factor on how this will all come together and on which date,” said Cochrane.

Original publish date: Jul. 6, 2016

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