Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – June 15, 2024

A provincial health scan for Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of June 15, 2024. Written by Wes McLean.

Manitoba

  • A claim with the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba in the death of a Winnipeg firefighter who took his own life earlier this year has been accepted, which the city’s firefighters’ union says means his family will now be entitled to financial benefits and counselling. But the decision, which agrees Preston Heinbigner died as a result of a workplace injury, is also a “vindication” for everyone who knew him, said Tom Bilous, president of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.
  • They may not give you wings, but they will likely put your brain in the clouds. The popularity of energy drinks has prompted a Winnipeg high school teacher to ban them in his classroom and alert parents to their dangers. “It’s common with every grade in my school, and it’s hard on teachers, it’s hard on kids. It’s a huge issue,” David Law, a Grade 10 teacher at the Seven Oaks Met School, told host Marcy Markusa in an interview with CBC Manitoba’s Information Radio.
  • A man who grew up on a farm in southern Manitoba whose land was in part leased for crop research and development is now suing the companies that carried out that work, alleging the chemicals they used near his home gave him cancer. Kevin Wayne Giesbrecht was diagnosed with Stage 4 follicular non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in December, an illness he says in a statement of claim filed on June 3 in Manitoba’s Court of King’s Bench was “directly and proximately caused” by his exposure to chemicals over two decades on his family’s farm near the town of Carman, Man.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • The site of the former Grace Hospital will become the site of the new Downtown Health and Well-Being Centre. The new centre will provide urgent care and primary care, including a family care team, for residents in the downtown St. John’s area. It will also provide outreach services to the Downtown Health Care Collaborative. In addition, services will be provided for people with mental health and addiction challenges who do not require hospitalization, but need additional support before transitioning home.
  • The Provincial Government is investing $500,000 in the Strongest Families Institute to expand its stepped-care programming to provide more free, mental health services to families. The Honourable Tom Osborne, Minister of Health and Community Services, made the announcement on the expansion Thursday. Minister Osborne was joined by Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, President and CEO of Strongest Families Institute, and Brad Glynn, Executive Director of Lifewise NL.
  • The Provincial Government is supporting Memorial University in its purchase of a state-of-the-art piece of equipment not widely available in Canada which will give researchers the ability to support innovative health research in the province. The equipment is essential to conduct cutting-edge studies and further explore the potential causes of chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis. This infrastructure will not only pave the way to treat such diseases but also assist health researchers in identifying areas of pharmaceutical importance. The Honourable Andrew Parsons, KC, Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, on Thursday announced an investment of $453,676 from the province’s Research and Innovation Fund towards the purchase of an Orbitrap Mass Spectrometry system. The Provincial Government’s investment helps to leverage a further $695,578 towards the purchase of this equipment.

Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia’s first class of emergency medical responders is ready to join the front lines and provide direct care to Nova Scotians. Fourteen Nova Scotians, ranging in age from 19 to 60, graduated from the inaugural emergency medical responder program on June 14th. The program prepares learners to work as part of the paramedic care team. Emergency medical responders, who have successfully become part of the emergency healthcare system in several other provinces, can assess, stabilize and transport patients to hospital. They partner with a paramedic, rather than having two paramedics staff ambulances, and this increases the number of teams available to respond to an emergency call.
  • People with addictions, substance use and gambling disorders looking for support in Halifax can turn to a new outpatient recovery support centre opening on Thursday, June 13. Located on Fenwick Street, the centre will be staffed by a multidisciplinary team including a physician, registered nurses, social workers and administrative staff. Services include:
    • in-person assessments
    • group programming
    • harm reduction support
    • outpatient withdrawal management
    • recovery support.
  • A Nova Scotia program that helps cover the cost of sensor-based glucose monitors for people with diabetes doesn’t go far enough, says a Cape Breton man who was denied coverage. Steven Roberts, who has Type 2 diabetes, said he was “really pissed off” to learn he’s not eligible for the program because he only requires an insulin injection once a day, instead of multiple times. The 71-year-old pays more than $100 every two weeks for a sensor-based glucose monitor to help manage his blood sugar levels. “Oh God, it helps me control it a lot better,” said Roberts. Registration for the program opened last week for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who meet certain criteria, including requiring an insulin injection at least four times a day. 

New Brunswick

  • A new program at the Moncton Hospital will provide advanced, innovative treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Deep brain stimulation is a surgical treatment that involves implanting a device, sometimes referred to as a pacemaker for the brain. The device sends electrical impulses to specific areas of the brain that can alleviate symptoms of various neurological disorders and bring significant relief to patients.
  • A nursing home will be built in Champdoré (Saint-Antoine district), adding 60 beds to the province’s long-term care system when it opens in 2026. “I am pleased we are bringing more long-term care options to southeastern New Brunswick and adding more nursing home beds to the province’s long-term care network,” said Kathy Bockus, the minister responsible for seniors. “The commitment our partners have to our seniors is heartening, and I want to thank everyone who is making this possible.” The nursing home will be built and operated by Comfort Life Network, which already operates several nursing homes across the province.
  • Dalhousie University has pulled all medical students and post-graduate trainees from any cardiac training at the Saint John Regional Hospital and New Brunswick Heart Centre after some complained about alleged harassment and the learning environment, CBC News has learned. Students and trainees were notified nearly seven months ago of the “pause” to “address issues.” “As of Nov. 10th at 5 pm, placement of learners on [the cardiac care unit] and other cardiology-related clinical teaching experiences in Saint John will be stopped,” an internal memo, obtained by CBC News, said. “Learner feedback has highlighted concerns … about behaviours in the environment consistent with intimidation/harassment/racism/sexism,” as well as the level of supervision of learners, especially on call, it said.

Prince Edward Island

  • Nurse practitioners will begin caring for the most seriously ill patients at two Prince Edward Island hospitals as well as working in the emergency department of a third hospital, according to the nurse practitioner director for Health P.E.I. P.E.I. is the last province to have nurse practitioners (NP) working in those roles, Ellen Christie said Friday at a conference in Charlottetown organized by the Prince Edward Island Nurse Practitioner Association (PEINPA). But the expansion will help take the strain off the health-care system, she said. “The healthcare system is definitely going through a period of challenge, for sure. And we really just need all hands on deck,” Christie said.
  • Health P.E.I. is offering some healthcare workers more money to take on additional shifts this summer, especially during evenings, weekends and holidays. It’s hoped the move will make it easier for other health workers to take a vacation this summer. But union leaders are concerned it may create even more problems. Barbara Brookins, president of the P.E.I. Nurses’ Union, is hopeful the new incentives will help. Her union was first to strike a deal with Health P.E.I. on Friday. 

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