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Read the letter from the Aberdeen Walk-In Clinic doctors

The Aberdeen Walk-In Clinic has been serving the residents of Pictou County since 2005, and has been under its current ownership since 2009. In 2016 we went from being open 6 days a week, to 4 days a week when one of our doctors retired and we were unable to recruit a suitable replacement. Although we are currently open only 4 days a week, the doctors working at the Aberdeen Walk-In Clinic increased access to primary care to the residents of Pictou County through providing approximately 10,000 patient visits in 2017.

Unfortunately, one of our regular doctors is leaving in August. This, combined with the recent decision by the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and MSI to exclude walk-in clinics from the enhanced fee model applied to other primary care provider office visits, gives us cause to reconsider the current situation at the Aberdeen Walk-In Clinic.

A recent survey of our physician colleagues in Pictou County indicated an overwhelming positive endorsement of our efforts to increase access to primary care. Residents have been able to access services at the walk-in rather than visit the Emergency Department or are sometimes able to be seen more quickly for acute illnesses when their primary care provider is unavailable. We are proud of the fact that we have been able to assist patients without a primary care provider if test results come back with less than favourable outcomes. In these instances, we provided as comprehensible care to patients as possible. Our focus has always been on providing access to primary care the residents of Pictou County.

We fully recognize that the current model for walk-in clinics in Nova Scotia does not fit with the long term plan for Primary Care in Nova Scotia. We support this plan. However, until the resources are in place to realize this plan, walk-in clinics provide access to patients who would otherwise do without. Unfortunately, this is our current reality in Pictou County and across Nova Scotia.

In a recent meeting with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness (July 16, 2018), Department Staff present stated that they recognize the service provided by the Aberdeen Walk-In Clinic. However, they later indicated the decision to not include the Aberdeen Walk-In Clinic in the enhanced fee model applied to other primary care providers will remain in effect. This leaves us, and the residents of Pictou County, in a difficult situation.

In is unfortunate that the Nova Scotia Department of Health and MSI do not want to confront the reality which is that we are no longer able to operate under the current conditions for two main reasons:

  1. by not allowing doctors to operate under the enhanced fee model makes recruitment impossible given the doctors currently working at the walk-in do so in addition to their own full time primary care practices, and
  2. there is no recognition that the Aberdeen Walk-In has been able to serve the residents of Pictou County by providing access to much needed primary care when other options have not been available for a variety of reasons.

For the reasons noted above, it is with regret and great concern to share with you that the Aberdeen Walk-In Clinic will be suspending operations as of August 5, 2018 until September 17, 2018 while we revisit our options. During this period, we will be working with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, MSI, and our local MLAs to try to reach an acceptable solution. We do greatly regret the inconvenience this will cause our colleagues in other parts of the health care system and most importantly to the residents of Pictou County. We will share with our decision for the future as soon as it is available.

Sincerely,

Drs. Chris Elliott & Tom Park

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