New Pugwash Hospital on Life Support
Talk of a new hospital for Pugwash is not dead. The MLA for Cumberland North says the long-awaited Pugwash hospital replacement is actually moving forward, albeit very slowly.
Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin says the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) has completed its final plan and has asked the Department of Health for approval.
The MLA did not say if there is a timeline for construction to start, but she did say she was heartened by the fact the project is still in the financial estimates for the current fiscal year.
A replacement for the aging facility has been in the works for decades. A succession of provincial governments, including Conservative, NDP, and Liberal, have taken turns in announcing a new facility, usually connected to a provincial election.
The most recent promise was made by Premier Stephen McNeil who stood in the hospital’s boardroom just prior to the last general election to announce that “Shovels would be in the ground in 2018.” That promise faded too though the Liberal government continued to dangle hope by an oblique reference to the facility in the current provincial budget.
The northern part of Cumberland County continues to be underserved as a shortage of doctors has led to regular closure of the emergency service during daytime hours. While most rural hospitals suffer some service interruption, Pugwash leads the province with emergency closures averaging six days a week over the last year with runs of up to 12 consecutive days without service.
The general consensus among healthcare workers is that doctors have left the area due to the broken promises and new physicians are reluctant to commit to the community until a new facility is built.
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