A Note of Appreciation

It’s nice to know that our efforts are appreciated. Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation received this very nice Thank You note from OT Dept. Manager, Jodi Goudey, which recognizes not only the Foundation, but also SMH Auxiliary, and other service groups that provide funding to purchase much needed equipment.

14 Wing Greenwood Backs Valley Health Practitioner Recruitment and Retention Efforts

14 Wing Greenwood is a partner in a Valley-wide initiative to attract health care practitioners to the community, working with both the Mid Valley and the Annapolis Valley Collaborative committees for recruitment and retention. While military members have access to health care on base, their families often go an entire posting cycle living here without a doctor or access to reliable care. Don Hyslop, centre, is the volunteer Community Physician Navigator for the Mid Valley Committee. He recently visited Deputy Wing Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Travis, right, and Chief Warrant Officer Jamie Rideout to catch up on the latest developments in an on-going campaign.

14 Wing Greenwood’s military families without a doctor or access to reliable care are not alone. Approximately 81,000 people are on the Nova Scotia ‘Need a Family Practice’ Registry. In the mid Valley area, there are ~6,000 people— close to 30 per cent of the population— without regular care, which is highest percentage by region in the province.

“My family has spent two and a half years on the waitlist,” 14 Wing Commander Colonel Brendan Cook said in a base-wide virtual town hall session on February 23, in response to a question about dependents’ access to local health care. “We just heard we’re soon to be enrolled with a doctor, but we leave Greenwood in July. I understand.”

Fifteen years ago, the Wing partnered with the Nova Scotia Heath Authority to open the Greenwood Family Health Clinic in the Morfee Centre. The base provided the space and NSHA provided the staff, programs, and equipment.

“The thinking was that clinic would predominantly serve military families, with some access by the wider community, and we do have that today—but military families move  and may not have taken themselves off the patient list; and other military members have retired here and remain on the list as part of our veteran community.”

In 2020, Cook tasked then-Deputy Wing Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Dale King to engage with NSHA with support for the Greenwood clinic, and the wider community on healthcare worker recruitment. A thorough check of the clinic’s patient list—with personal phone calls made to many—found some military families were no longer in the area.

“The priority for us is clear: if a space opens up, a military family be considered first—but it won’t be everyone, and it won’t be soon.” Cook said.

‘Anyone we can attract helps us all’

Current Deputy Wing Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Travis, King’s successor, says “anyone we can attract to Nova Scotia helps us all,” using words that sound remarkably close to 14 Wing’s motto, “Operate as One.”

“Working on doctor and health care worker recruitment is a very different task than my typical military work,” he says, “but medical care is a big deal for our military families. If families can’t get a doctor while they are here in Greenwood, it affects families’ posting decisions—and that means the military member we need for their skill, and the member’s potential career advancement—doesn’t happen. Everyone loses.

“I’m enjoying working with the community and seeing the work going in to this and the progress being made.”

Travis is working mostly closely, recently, with the Mid Valley Region Physician Recruitment & Retention Committee, established by Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation to retain and recruit healthcare personnel to SMH’s catchment area, from Aylesford to Bridgetown. This is the region where many of those 6,000 mid Valley residents without primary care live.

Don Hyslop is the volunteer Community Physician Navigator for the recruitment committee. He says 14 Wing has already made a difference, providing meeting space, photo and video services, adding recreation and fitness centre information and access to welcome packages for residents and visiting healthcare workers, attending meet and greet events for health care workers and community members, and adding “people power” to targeted initiatives.

“We’ve seen one-and-a-half physicians added to our catchment area since last summer,” Hyslop says. “We’re doing it. Everyone who can has to be involved in this. I’d just say, ‘thank you.’”

Valley effort all about collaboration and connection

At the eastern end of the Valley, Breanna Hall is the Community Physician Navigator for the Annapolis Valley Collaborative Committee for Doctor Retention and Recruitment. She initially worked with King, tying 14 Wing to some of the Committee’s projects, and adding in extras only the base could bring to the table.

“We had a flyover in July of Valley Regional Hospital, just to show appreciation for our physicians and healthcare workers,” Hall says, “and we’d added the Wing to an incentive program for nurse practitioners and doctors visiting or new to the area.

“In 2021, we had a 100 per cent retention rate with residents who were working in the Valley, which is phenomenal.”

Hull says the eastern Valley committee is certainly “not in competition with” the Mid Valley group: “We’re all figuring out plans that work specific areas. We’ll collaborate, divide and not duplicate, and we have that built connection that we’re here for each other. We both have a great connection with the Wing, and we’re happy to partner and support the entire Valley area.”

14 Wing will be at the table

All of these efforts and partnership are no different than what many communities across Nova Scotia—and Canada— are doing to increase health care accessibility, but Cook is committed to 14 Wing being involved—and being a “catalyst” wherever possible—in Valley initiatives.

“We’ve helped bring the community together, and this is truly the solution we need to embrace. We’re working with the province and the municipalities and the community to make that happen,” he said. “A doctor for one community in the Valley is a doctor for all.”

-Contributed by Sara White, Editor, The Greenwood Aurora, 7 March 2022

Primary Health Care Centre receives its new name!

25 January 2022

Based on a story that originally appeared in the Bridgetown Reader in January 2021:

The new multi-million dollar Middleton & Area Family Health Centre is part of a wide-ranging effort to improve primary health care infrastructure across Nova Scotia. It will better serve the needs of residents of Kingston, Greenwood, Aylesford, Middleton, Bridgetown, Springfield, and other communities of Annapolis County and western Kings County. At nearly six times the size of the old medical clinic, the 12,600 square foot fully accessible facility has 26 exam and consultation rooms and houses the Middleton Collaborative Practice team.

This Collaborative Practice team is made up of family physicians, a nurse, social worker, dietitian, nurse practitioner, and administration staff. Together, they provide a full range of health care services including support to in-patients at Soldiers Memorial Hospital. Recent physician retirements in the region have had a significant impact on the health care needs of our citizens. The new Middleton & Area Family Health Centre will be an important piece of infrastructure to attract more doctors to the area who are looking for a collaborative model in which to practice.

Making our region more inviting to medical students, residents, and international graduates is a critical factor in reaching recruitment goals. When surveyed, most medical students and residents identified their ideal practice type as a group practice with physicians and other health-care providers.

As the Collaborative Practice team grows, it will be able to accept more patients.

The new Middleton & Area Family Health Centre will also provide space to train future physicians and other healthcare professionals. The Middleton Collaborative Practice is part of the Dalhousie Family Medicine Residency program, which allows resident physicians to gain experience working in a rural setting. The new clinic will provide appropriate space for residents to work with the family practice team. 

The Valley Region’s Physician training program has had a very successful retention rate. Over the past 10 years, 26 of 29 residents have stayed in the province and 17 of these have continued to practice in the Annapolis Valley.

COMMUNITY EFFORT

Following the announcement of the Primary Health Care Centre– as it was originally called– by then Premier Stephen McNeil in August 2019, Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation committed to a $1 million community campaign as its contribution to the $12 million price tag. 

Although the Foundation has been supporting the Hospital’s needs since 1972, this has been the biggest project in its history. The Foundation has had considerable success with the campaign and donations are still being accepted towards it.

Kelly Hutton, Chair of the SMH Foundation’s Board of Directors, says “It was truly heartening to see our local community rally around this new health centre. We are grateful for the support of our donors, community leaders, government, and our local healthcare community for making this exciting project a reality. Looking ahead, I expect it to be a catalyst in recruitment of physicians and other healthcare providers to the mid Annapolis Valley area.”

For more information, please contact the Foundation’s Administrative Assistant, Michael Fairn, at 902 825 4202 or foundation-smh@nshealth.ca

A ‘Special’ Donation

On a very (!) windy day, SMH Foundation Administrative Assistant, Michael Fairn, accepts a $500 donation from Middleton resident, David Harvey

Whether you live in Middleton or only come into Town periodically, you have probably seen David Harvey pulling his metal wagon and collecting refundables from various businesses and recycling receptacles.

We were very pleased to receive a call from David’s sister saying that he wanted to make a donation to the Foundation for the Primary Health Care Centre (recently renamed to Middleton & Area Family Health Centre). We were pleasantly surprised that the donation was in the amount of $500. THAT IS A LOT OF CANS AND BOTTLES!

David, the members of the Foundation thank you. The staff at the Middleton & Area Family Health Centre thank you. And please know that the entire community thanks you for your hard work in collecting these refundables and for your generosity with the donation!

Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation awards five $1,000 Scholarships.

Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation awarded five $1,000 Scholarships to local students from the Mid Valley Region who are enrolled in medical school.

Pictured above, from Left to Right: Dr. Michele Saxon; Medical Students Adam McNeil, Meghan Breckon, Allyson Evans, Evan Banks, Rachel Holland; and Kelly Hutton, Chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

The Scholarships recognize and support Medical Students from the Hospital’s catchment area, which extends from Aylesford to Bridgetown.

The Foundation is committed to the education, growth, and development of our communities’ youth. In addition to mentoring and engaging in education in the field of health and wellness, we believe it is important to assist in the advancement of talented students in their pursuit of higher education. It is this pursuit of higher education in the field of Medicine that enables the Foundation to provide $1,000. scholarships to these five Medical Students.

The Mid Valley Region Physician Recruitment & Retention Committee will follow their progress and offer support when needed throughout their time in Medical School.

It is the hope of the Recruitment & Retention Committee that these five exceptional young adults will return here to the Mid Valley Region and that we can help create a positive community environment for them to live, work, and build their lives here as Physicians.