Inverness gets cold shoulder regarding CT Scan
“It didn’t accomplish anything,” said Dr. N. G. Pillai.” We went up and back.”
Dr. N. G. Pillai, John MacDonald and MLA Allan MacMaster being interviewed in Halifax.
On Thursday of last week, members of the community in the Inverness hospital’s catchment area travelled to Halifax to protest the NDP government’s repeated refusal to put a CT scanner at the Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital (ICMH).
On the bus were Dr N. G. Pillai, chief of staff at ICMH, MLA Allan MacMaster, Councillor Jim Mustard and concerned citizens.
Dr. Pillai pointed out that the government’s inaction on this issue is jeopardizing the health of Inverness County residents.
The closest CT scanners are in Sydney and Antigonish, both significant distances from residents who live in Inverness County.
They met with Health Minister Dave Wilson.
Dr. Pillai said Wilson had his rehearsed answers which he used over and over (that they have to go by the auditor general’s economic decision and that’s how the system works).
They were told that Inverness doesn’t rate a CT scanner.
Dr. Pillai said an independent “needs” assessment should be done, especially when you factor in that it takes about two and a half hours to get to another facility in good weather.
“We need a CT scanner in a small rural hospital like Inverness for patient care,” Dr. Pillai added. “We need it in emergency situations such as accidents, strokes, and other acute situations.”
He said that if an ambulance is on call, the time to get a patient to a regional hospital substantially increases.
Dr. Pillai added that the government has a contract with EHS and doesn’t seem to be worried about the costs.
MLA Allan MacMaster, who has been fighting for a scanner for years, said the lack of one in Inverness is jeopardizing care.
“This is a serious gap that has been identified by our health authority and local health professionals,” said MacMaster. “As a former paramedic, NDP Health Minister Dave Wilson must understand the severity of delaying treatment of patients requiring acute care, yet he is the only person saying a CT scanner is not needed at ICMH.”
Inverness is served by one ambulance. If that ambulance is transferring a patient to Sydney or Antigonish for a CT scan, it can take an hour or more for another ambulance to respond, making it impossible to provide consistent, timely transport to a regional hospital. MacMaster says people who suffer a stroke or other acute illness may not be treated effectively.
The NDP government has denied two requests to fund a CT scanner for ICMH, made for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 fiscal years.
Dr. Pillai says the hospital needs the capacity to conduct CT scans due to its distance from regional hospitals.
“The standard of care for acute illness requires investigation by a CT scan,” said Dr. Pillai. “We have an aging population more likely to require CT scans for strokes. The scans help physicians decide what action to take when treating accident victims and patients with head trauma which often require a CT scan to determine the type and extent of the injury.”
MacMaster says a PC government will put standards in place for smaller communities to access a CT scanner which would include distance from a regional centre.
The community is willing to raise 25 per cent of the funding, but the NDP government won’t budge on the issue.
To keep the momentum rolling, a march of concern is planned for Saturday, August 24th at 2:00 p.m.
The march will begin at the Inverness school, proceed across Central Avenue, and end up at the south parking lot at the Inverness hospital.
Residents of Inverness County are urged to come out and show their support for a CT scanner and better health care.
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