Good news for Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital

Heather Killen
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ER closures down, possible upgrades coming

Soldiers' Memorial Hospital

By Heather Killen

The Spectator


At the regular meeting of Middleton town council on March 3, Councillor Marc Britney and Mayor Calvin Eddy updated council about the hospital committee’s recent meeting with officials from Annapolis Valley Health.

Janet Knox, CAO of Annapolis Valley Health, Jeanne Saulnier, site manager of Solders Memorial Hospital, and Dr. Lynne Harrigan, VP Medicine at AVH, recently updated the committee on the status and future of SMH.

Councillor Marc Britney told council the committee was surprised to learn that Middleton has one of the busiest emergency departments in the province. Drawing on a catchment area of about 21,000 people, this emergency department serves people from Berwick through Annapolis Royal, and inland to Springfield from the shore.

Keeping this department staffed continues to be a priority for AVH, Britney said.


ER Closures Down

The number of emergency room closures has dropped from the troubling figures seen in 2012. Since January 2013 the department has been forced to close a total of seven times, down from the 47 interruptions in 2012.

 “They are committed to keeping this department open,” Britney told council. “It’s very encouraging from a few years ago. It’s definitely a positive trend. They’re doing everything they can to reduce the closures.”

Middleton Mayor Calvin Eddy agreed that the meeting was very positive. He added that upgrades to the emergency department are also being considered to ensure this department continues to meets the patient demand and modern standards.

“It was a good meeting, very positive,” said Eddy. “We’re confident that we’re going to have a hospital.”


Long-Term Plan

A nursing shortage has temporarily reduced the number of beds, but this will be reversed once the staffing problem has been resolved. AVH officials also indicated there is a long-term plan to revamp the facility to better meet its current and future service demands.

The committee was told that while the hospital’s infrastructure has been maintained over the years, upgrades are needed to keep the emergency department up to current standards.

The operating rooms are in good shape and in the future, day surgeries at the site could potentially be expanded to ease some of the burden at Valley Regional, but there are no definite plans for this, according to Leslie Mulcahy, AVH communications.

She said that there is no dollar amount currently attached to the overall ER upgrade. If the plan proceeds and costing is done, it could include both renovation and equipment costs.

“AVH has developed a basic redevelopment plan for Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital,” she responded in an email. “In looking at the building, we know that it doesn’t adequately support the model of care needed at the site.”


Primary Care

The first goal in redevelopment will be creating appropriate space for primary care (i.e. family physicians and other health team members) and AVH is in the process of submitting a proposal to the government to help gain support for this, she said.

“We’re also looking at modernizing the emergency room to create the best space to provide emergency care,” she confirmed. “All of this will take some time, as there are processes to follow in order to gain support and funding.”

In recent years, with the foundation and government support, new beds have been purchased for the SMH ER. The elevators and sprinkler system have been upgraded, and AVH is currently implementing a new diesel generator.

“The redevelopment plan is a planning document with a vision for possible changes at SMH and looking at how care can be provided there; while this is a proposed model, everything will have to be itemized and broken out into specific projects,” she said.  “SMH plays a very important role in the care provided within AVH and our hope is to strengthen that role with additional changes over time.”

Organizations: Memorial Hospital, Middleton town council, Annapolis Royal

Geographic location: Berwick, Springfield

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Recent comments

  • Barb McGill
    March 15, 2014 - 22:17

    To Whom This May Concern, I would dearly like to see Middleton keep there hospital, bring back there O.R. and as well more beds like there was, more nurses so that the ones that faithfully work there aren't work so much, to the point they get burnt out. One more thing Soldiers used to have dialysis unit. I would Like to see a Dialysis Room that would be able to hold about four to six chairs, where the patients that are trained, can go in and do there treatment, instead of being at home a lone. I found it overwhelming myself , because in a hospital you will have a doctor, or a nurse that you could ring for in case you needed help. Also a patient wouldn't be tempted to take extra days off than they should. As well being at the hospital, one would be in a more safer place than home would be. I would ,or I know, there would be less COSTLY, to do this in A HOSPITAL. I WILL TELL YOU WHY! When I was finish at home doing dialysis Halifax Capital Health, first sent a truck out to pick up there machine and before that sent a tech out to get the machine ready for transport. Then they send a truck to pick up all the tanks. Then next they send a truck to pick up all the supplies that is no longer needed at home. Now listen carefully, the trucker that came to the door was exhausted from the heat, I told him I had a lot of boxes packed for him, he said ,I was third person whom he had to pick up supplies from the homes and take it to the garbage. Well I was shock, there was a great waste there, and a hack of a lot of money that Capital Health Is Wasting. When I question the trucker, he said that Halifax counted it as contaminated . How could they call it that when all supplies was in packages that weren't open? What's more contaminated a truck ? Or a very sterile DIALYSIS room.? When I ask one of the girls from Halifax, when she arrived from Halifax to the Berwick Unit she said in question to the nurses of the unit, we send all supplies that was in the home goes or is sent overseas, don't we ? Reply was I don't really Know? Then answer again from the lady from Halifax yes I'm pretty sure that is what takes place. I 'm inclined to take the truckers word. Something to give a lot of thought to. There is money that is wasted by Capital Health, I'm afraid that could be put into Soldiers Memorial Hospital. I have pictures of that truck with supplies before leaving my home as the trucker requested, as he said it is such a waste. In a long answer , We most definitely need Soldiers Memorial , In the heart Of the Valley, It Is Central, as well your write up sounds promising, hope it all comes about. We need it desperately ! Sorry my reply is so long, how ever I could tell you where Capital Health could be saving in another area as well. Thank-You for Listening.

  • chris scotney
    March 11, 2014 - 22:03

    we really need the middleton hospital and I truly hope to see day surgeries come back .if our tax dollars were used properly this hospital would still be going full swing

  • Lynda Fairn
    March 11, 2014 - 17:16

    This sounds very encouraging .... SMHospital is vital to this end of the valley!

  • Lynda Fairn
    March 11, 2014 - 17:15

    This sounds very encouraging .... SMHospital is vital to this end of the valley!

  • beverly todd
    March 11, 2014 - 14:24

    i was born there and so was 2 of my children, so glad that can stay open to serve the surrounding communities