As Coronavirus (Covid-19) is confirmed in the Maritimes and the numbers grow country (and worldwide), many in the Maritimes are likely frustrated by the lack of care. For a part of the world where ER closures and doctor shortages are normal, the thought of coronavirus is terrifying for provinces that already have an aging population and decline in services. According to a Global News Article, “Statistics Canada estimates that more than nine per cent of the province’s population are without a family doctor. That’s approximately 70,000 New Brunswickers,” and “[t]he situation is worse in Nova Scotia, where an estimated 100,000 people are without a family doctor and just over 50,000 are on a wait list.”
The healthcare system in the Maritimes is not prepared for every day challenges, let along a global pandemic that is sweeping across the world quicker than we can shut our airports down.
In a 2019 CBC News article, “The number of hours emergency departments in Nova Scotia were closed jumped 60 per cent during the latest fiscal year, says a report issued Thursday by the province.”
Susan Fraser, a New Brunswick Retired BNRN, and Miltary veteran medic, CD, says she is prepared to come back to the workforce if the need arises, stating,
“As a BNRN I feel more than prepared and able to return to work in order to alleviate staffing problems and patient care issues!”
Across the ocean, Ireland has already considered this option in response to surging of cases of Coronavirus, with the Health Service Executive of Ireland releasing a statement that, “[i]n an updated document produced on Friday, the HSE said staff who retired in the past two years may be re-hired as part of the crisis management measures”.
Anne from Cape Breton believes that retirees are not the answer and says, “I think that the retirees are probably a non-starter because they are seen to be as in the age group that is vulnerable.”
A nurse from Nova Scotia who wishes to remain anonymous is concerned about potential burn-out, but does not necessarily believe retirees are necessary, or will be.
“One concern I have is healthcare provider burn out and how do we keep the ratio of nurses/Dr/CCA to patient care as it should be if staff get sick as well.” She says, adding, “How will this effect the care for our patients not just in hospitals but one being cared for in there homes.”
She also believes that it is up to the public to respond accordingly and stop the spread of the disease.
It is early days for coronavirus and cases continue to be reported by the day. As cases of coronavirus grow, governments might have to consider bringing in nurses or medical professionals who are no longer in the field who are otherwise in good health could provide an already-trained workforce in a reserve capacity. Governments, unions, and healthcare policy makers should consider contingency plans for when COVID-19 floods a system that has already been worked past its capacity.