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Health Minister Randy Delorey says the number of severe bedsores in nursing homes won't be made public until a consistent reporting method is established for all 92 licensed nursing homes in Nova Scotia.
Health Minister Randy Delorey (file) - Tim Krochak

SYDNEY, N.S. — With the project team overseeing the planned redevelopment of health care in Cape Breton now in place, Health Minister Randy Delorey was in Cape Breton this week to discuss how that process is going and to speak directly with doctors.

Delorey met with physicians’ groups at the four sites involved in the health-care redevelopment, estimating in an interview that he had spoken with upwards of 50 doctors. It’s been about six months since the announcement was made that the delivery of health care in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is to change dramatically, with the closure of hospitals in North Sydney and New Waterford to be replaced by health centres, expansions of emergency departments at the Cape Breton Regional and Glace Bay hospitals and the expansion of the cancer centre.

Randy Delorey
Randy Delorey

A three-person team has been hired to lead the functional planning process, which at the time of the announcement was described as taking nine to 12 months.

“They’re interested to see this work around the functional plan and the details coming out, that it reflects the needs for the community,” Delorey said, of the comments directed to him by the physicians. “That, I think, is an interest and a desire that government and the health authority shares and that’s exactly what the functional planning process is all about. It’s about looking to the future and saying, with the infrastructure changes, how do they need to look, how do the relationships of patient care and the flow of patients really fit within new infrastructure design.”

When asked about the frustration that many residents have expressed about the lack of specifics to date about what the new and renovated facilities will look like and what services they will offer six months after the announcement was made, Delorey said that is all part of the process.

“The details are what was coming next,” he said. “We go through a process which includes the functioning planning, we were very clear at that time in June that it was a nine to 12-month process to have those meetings to work out those details. It is a matter of patience to wait until that work is done.”

As for when those details will begin to emerge, Delorey reiterated that the planning process is well underway and is being led locally in each of the communities involved, so it will likely be another three to six months to see what comes out of that.

One of the unplanned meetings that Delorey held this week occurred outside the Northside General Hospital in North Sydney on Tuesday, where he was met by community activist Lisa Bond.

Lisa Bond
Lisa Bond

“All I did was ask him the questions that we’ve been asking since they announced closure, since before they announced the closure, actually,” Bond said. “I’ve been calling since he was named minister of health, really, calling him and emailing him and not getting anything in return other than one phone call.”

That call, she said, came on April 30 from Delorey’s office, “telling me that the Northside General was not closing and I was fear-mongering and to stop.”

Bond pressed the minister on the details associated with the redevelopment, saying the community needs to know them. She said a communications staffer travelling with Delorey said she would set up a future meeting with Bond and the other leaders of the group who recently organized a march across the Canso Causeway. No date has yet been set for that meeting.

“The questions were generally very much looking for those specific details … I made it clear that’s exactly why I was in town, was to have some of those conversations to hear directly from those health-care providers, predominantly physicians, in each of the four communities about their concerns,” Delorey said.

Related:

• EXCLUSIVE: Internal document outlines pros and cons of buildings included in Cape Breton health redevelopment

• Cape Breton staff named to lead planning process for redevelopment of health-care system

Staffing levels were raised as an issue, the minister said, as it commonly is in Cape Breton and elsewhere in the province. Delorey said they are well aware of the issue and are working to improve the situation by investing in initiatives such as incentive programs, expanded residency programs and acting on suggestions brought forward by doctors themselves.

“We recognize that it’s many contributing factors and that is why we’re taking many different approaches to try and change the situation,” he said.

nancy.king@cbpost.com

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