Health Scan – Atlantic Canada and Manitoba – August 18-25, 2023

A health scan review of Atlantic Canada and Manitoba for the week of August 25, 2023. Prepared by Wes McLean, Senior Consultant at the Capital Hill Group.

Manitoba

  • The Manitoba Nurses Union says the amount of overtime nurses are working cannot continue, but the province says the numbers are actually heading in the right direction. Nurses at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, which is Manitoba’s largest healthcare facility, worked 224,000 hours in overtime from September 2022 to the end of May 2023, according to documents released on Wednesday by the NDP. That’s equivalent to 25½ years in overtime in just nine months, as the NDP said in a news release about the data, which it acquired through a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
  • Manitoba Health is reporting the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in 2023, along with three other probable WNV cases currently under investigation. The confirmed case is 40 to 49 years of age and lives in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. The individual experienced neurological symptoms and was hospitalized. They were most likely exposed to WNV sometime in late June to early July. A public health investigation has been completed. More information about the other cases will be posted on Manitoba Health’s WNV web page if they are confirmed to be infected with WNV.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • About 100 people gathered at a rallyin St. John’s on Wednesday to ask the provincial government to implement what organizers are calling “compassionate involuntary care.” They want the province to pass laws that would permit relatives to send their loved ones to rehab without their consent. At Wednesday’s rally, Health Minister Tom Osborne said his department was “looking closely” at that policy to determine whether it could be applied in Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • A mental health advocate says a new N.L. Health Services food policy is dangerous and archaic — and could have real-world implications for the recoveries of people with eating disorders. Jamie Ruby of St. John’s said he was surprised to see the provincial health authority enact a policy that bans the sale of sweet and sugary foods in healthcare facilities in the Eastern region and will expand to fried foods, chocolate, sports drinks and more by the end of 2025. Ruby said the policy’s labelling of foods like doughnuts and muffins as “bad food” is harmful because some of the foods targeted are necessary as part of efforts to re-normalize eating for some people with eating disorders.

Nova Scotia

  • Opposition leaders say the doubling of this year’s construction budget for a new cost of other major health-care projects in Nova Scotia. The Tory government signed an order in council earlier this month to give an additional $41 million to the project in Sydney. That’s on top of the $39.4 million allocated to the project in the 2023-24 provincial budget, passed in April.
  • Officials with Nova Scotia Health believe they’ve identified 17,500 people who can be removed from the province’s need-a-family-practice registry, and now they’re calling them to make sure. Health authority employees have been working to confirm the accuracy of the registry, which stood at more than 152,000 people on July 1. Monthly updates have been paused while the calls take place. “The current phase of this confirmation process involves comparing doctor billing data against the registry to identify people who may now be attached to a family practice,” Health Authority spokesperson Brendan Elliott said in an email.
  • Halifax researcher seeks COVID-19 long haulers to study effects of the virus on the brain. The study hopes to track changes in the brain over a two-year time frame. Dalhousie assistant professor Dr. Carlos Hernandez is working with scientists in Ontario and Mexico to track the effects of long-term COVID-19 on the brain.

New Brunswick

  • The owner of two New Brunswick special-care homes didn’t follow the rules when it came to reporting a missing resident, administering medication, or general health standards in the months before the Department of Social Development shut them down in January, according to documents obtained by CBC News. “I am of the opinion that you are operating in a manner that is of inadequate quality, and is dangerous, destructive and damaging to its users,” wrote then-Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard, in a letter informing the owner of Villa Neguac and Foyer St-Bernard that they had to terminate operations.
  • The New Brunswick Nurses Union says people shouldn’t be misled by a recent report of hundreds of new nurses being registered to work in the province. New registrations aren’t the same as new hires, union president Paula Doucet said Tuesday. The number of nurses who are newly hired and working in the health care system is lower. Morale is low among nurses, who are still struggling with a nursing shortage, Doucet said. “It’s still very disheartening across the province, in general, for nursing.”
  • No date for reopening of Moncton’s in-patient detox centre as addiction crisis deepens. Detox is the first step for many in recovery, but Moncton’s 10 beds have been closed since July.
  • Construction has begun on a $56-million coronary care unit (CCU) at The Moncton Hospital, which will enhance cardiac care for patients across the region. The new unit will be a two-storey wing built on hospital property near the Dr. Sheldon H. Rubin Oncology Clinic on Arden Street. It will provide a significantly larger space for cardiac care, adding about 2,600 sq. metres (nearly 28,000 sq. feet) to the hospital’s building, and is expected to be completed in June 2026.

Prince Edward Island

  • Roughly a dozen people lined up at a new walk-in clinic in Kensington, P.E.I., Wednesday — evidence of the pressure being relieved from emergency rooms by the newly opened service. The clinic at the local Murphy’s Pharmacy will allow residents of the town of about 1,800 to get non-urgent care without travelling the 15 kilometres to Summerside. Health P.E.I. says emergency departments have been busy, hospitals have been “very full” and walk-ins can help ease some of the pressure.
  • With the P.E.I. government now offering free tuition for new students going into licensed practical nursing and paramedic programs, some LPNs who are already working and paying off their student loans are hoping for help too.  The commitment of $1.3 million to cover the fees was contained in the spring budget and confirmed in a news release this week.

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