I was speaking with a friend of mine a few days ago — a senior whose wife is at the stage of life where she needs pretty constant attention and health services. We talked about their life and how they are working with the services that are offered by the hospitals in Halifax, Dartmouth, and Lower Sackville. We talked about what worked, and what talked about what didn’t work. We talked about how difficult access to health care can be, and we talked about simple things that could be done that can make a huge difference.

It was an emotional discussion, and it’s the type of conversation that we should be having with more people. It’s the type of conversation that will give us a better understanding of what really matters.

The conversation revolved around the health services that are offered in comparison to those that are available; how certain management styles seem to be more effective than others; and where and when services are delivered.

We spent a lot of time talking about where and when services are delivered, and so I’d like to talk about a couple of ideas for increased services with our Cobequid Health Centre.

Keep the Cobequid ER open 24/7 on week-ends

A number of years ago the Emergency Room of the Cobequid Health Centre was open 24/7. This was a hasty political promise, and it’s the type that gets a lot of attention but has no substance. After that election a report showed that the hospital saw an average of less than 1 patient a night. The justification was not there to keep it open, and so it was closed.

We (Sackville) have grown a fair amount since that promise was made. It’s time to look at keeping the Cobequid Health Centre open again. But this time it’s important to justify it.

At this point, when it approaches 10pm, the ER tries to move all patients to the Halifax Infirmary on Robie Street. It will stay open if there is a patient that cannot be moved, but only in that case. Once it reaches 10pm, our best two options are to head in to Halifax or head to the Dartmouth General.

The Cobequid Centre services a huge area, from the north end Dartmouth to half way to Windsor and from Fall River to Hammonds Plains. When it is closed then the burden on the Halifax Infirmary is increased dramatically and it takes many more hours to get seen.

Through the week there is less of a load, but we have heard about an increased load on the week-ends. It is time to properly look at

The emergency rooms at the Dartmouth General and the Halifax Infirmary are able to determine where most people come from because of their health card. The Nova Scotia Health Authority should review this data and determine if there is enough justification to keep the Cobequid Health Centre open on week-ends.

Build a third floor, and have in-patients

We constantly hear about a “Code Census” at the hospitals downtown. This happens every day, and it means that all of the beds in the hospital are full.

When there is a Code Census, all new admissions at the hospital have to stop. Patients are kept in the emergency room beds, because they can’t be admitted. Necessary operations are not done because there is nowhere to move the patient after the operation.

Our health system basically comes to a standstill because there is not enough room in the Halifax Infirmary to hold all of the patients.

The Cobequid Health Centre  was designed and built to support a third floor. If we have that third floor then we could still have Halifax be the trauma centre for the Atlantic provinces, and we could have the Cobequid Health Centre be open for those of us in the area. We would relieve pressure on the Halifax Informary, and we would solve a lot of challenges for those who live near us.

So where do we go from here?

We live in what some describe as the third largest city in the province. I believe that it makes sense for us to have better access to health care than we currently do. We have an amazing facility, in the Cobequid Health Centre, and we have amazing people who work there.

We just need to expand the services that we have there.