March 2023
Message from Nova Scotia Health President and CEO, Karen Oldfield
Dear colleagues in health,

Several investments made this month set the stage for positive, long-term changes in healthcare. Beginning with funding for a medical school at Cape Breton Univesity (CBU), affiliated with Dalhousie University School of Medicine. The future campus includes a new collaborative care clinic at the Nova Scotia Community College Marconi campus and an expansion of CBU’s Nancy Dingwall Health and Counselling Centre. The health and counselling centre will become a key clinical training facility and its expansion will address the increased demand for healthcare among the student population. We expect to see medical students on the CBU campus in Fall 2025.

There's more exciting news below on investments in healthcare education and retention. We're looking to future-proof care and attract, train and keep talent in Nova Scotia to meet the needs of our growing population.

Read the Government of Nova Scotia release.
Read the Cape Breton University release.
Read the Retention Bonuses, Incentives for Nurses, and Healthcare Workers release.

Until next month,
Investments in healthcare education, research

In addition to announcing a medical school campus at Cape Breton University, government is also investing in a new rural health institute at St. Francis Xavier University and new health-focused education programs at Saint Mary's University.

The Institute for Rural Health will look at ways to improve health promotion and mental health and wellness in rural communities, including chronic disease prevention and management, rehabilitation, and aging in place.

“By focusing on prevention, we can help people lead stronger, healthier lives, which reduces the burden on the healthcare system,” said Premier Tim Houston. 

The creation of healthcare data and analytics programs at Saint Mary's University will poise the province on becoming a national leader in leveraging data and analytics to improve patient care. The investment supports the creation of:
  • a diploma program in healthcare analytics that will help healthcare workers bring a new level of data-informed decision-making to Nova Scotia’s healthcare system
  • a business administration program for healthcare administrators, office directors, and family doctors
  • expand options for students to combine college and university learning by working with NSCC

Read more about the Institute for Rural Health.
Read more about healthcare data analytics.
Retention bonuses and incentives for nurses and other healthcare workers

On March 20, Government announced Retention Bonuses, Incentives for Nurses, and Healthcare Workers as a way of thanking Nova Scotia’s nurses and encouraging more to keep working in our province. Frontline nurses working for publicly funded employers will soon get a bonus of up to $10,000. They will be eligible for another $10,000 retention incentive next year if they stay in the system and sign a two-year return of service agreement by the end of March 2024. 
Additionally, healthcare workers, including paramedics, telehealth staff, respiratory therapists, continuing care staff, ward clerks, housekeeping, and food service staff, among others, will receive a retention bonus of up to $5,000.

These bonuses are one part of government’s larger strategy to retain and recruit talent in Nova Scotia and we expect to receive program guidelines in the coming days. 
Unsung Healthcare Heroes

Unsung Heroes is a monthly recognition initiative that celebrates exceptional individuals who quietly make a difference working behind the scenes. These team members demonstrate extraordinary commitment to their roles with no expectation of praise or recognition for their dedication to patients, clients, families, visitors, and/or colleagues.

From nearly 1,200 deserving nominations, the following individuals are the latest chosen by a random computer draw:
  • $200 gift card recipient, Monica Dort, Data Entry Clerk, Guysborough Memorial Hospital
  • $50 Central Zone gift card recipient, Deepanshu Deepanshu (Deep), Supply Technician, Halifax Infirmary 
  • $50 Northern Zone gift card recipient, Dylan MacKay, Rehab Assistant, Aberdeen
  • $50 Eastern Zone gift card recipient, Lee Boyle, Physiotherapist, St. Martha’s Regional Hospital 
  • $50 Western Zone gift card recipient, Juliette Ernst, Registered Nurse, South Shore Regional Hospital

To nominate a team member, scan the QR code. Criteria for nominees include:
  • Going above and beyond: demonstrating a pattern of going the extra mile
  • Inspiration: inspiring change in others
  • Professionalism: being respected for their professionalism and know-how
  • Positive impact: making notable positive impacts on patients, clients, families, visitors, and/or colleagues
  • Displaying Nova Scotia Health Values: working in a values-based way and demonstrating one or more of the following:
  • Respect: demonstrating a pattern of caring for each other and those we serve
  • Integrity: being recognized for their honest and ethical principles
  • Courage: leading by example and doing what is right, even when it may be difficult
  • Innovation: embracing change, learning new things, and exploring new possibilities
  • Accountability: cultivating an environment that encourages ownership and responsibility of actions and decisions
Forward Momentum
Pharmacy clinics fill a void: “If this isn’t transformation of health care, I don’t know what would be”

After 16 years as a pharmacist, Colleen MacInnis was ready to celebrate. It was February 9, and she and her staff at the TLC Pharmasave in Shelburne were joined by the local MLA for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, marking the opening day as one of 12 Community Pharmacy Primary Clinics in Nova Scotia.

“The very first morning, we stood together, the whole team, and it was like we needed to take a moment to recognize the fact that we are among the first in our profession to be stepping into this space,” said MacInnis.

Read more.

As I reflect on my own words: Dr. Dave Martell, physician lead for Addictions Medicine

“What do you expect me to do for you? You do this to yourself.” I felt ashamed after I heard myself once speak these words. Ashamed as a doctor tasked to be a support and as a fellow human being. Why do we blame people for their addiction?

Healthcare providers, including doctors, now know that substance use disorders are chronic medical problems and alterations in the brain’s reward system. Nobody who develops an addiction intends this to happen. Addiction is not simply a set of bad choices. Words matter when we talk about addiction.

Read more.
Drug access navigator and dedicated oncology pharmacy team enhancing patient care in Yarmouth

Pharmacy has always played a critical role in ensuring the quality and safety of the cancer treatment patients receive, but the evolution of cancer drug offerings over the last few years has resulted in an even greater reliance on their expertise and the creation of new roles and responsibilities.

The role of the drug access navigator is one example. The role was created a few years ago at the QEII Cancer Centre to support patients in accessing medication funding for oral cancer drugs. Now, as part of the enhancements to cancer care for Yarmouth area residents, Yarmouth Regional Hospital also has a drug access navigator.

Read more.
Waiting room care providers making big impact at Dartmouth General Hospital Emergency Department

Patient safety and quality care have always been at the forefront for Nova Scotia Health teams. These past few years have strained our healthcare system and have challenged our healthcare teams. Some teams have been affected more than others—but all are feeling the impact. Patient visits to emergency departments are at an all-time high. Last year, the Dartmouth General Hospital emergency department (ED) saw almost 45,000 patients—the highest number in the past five years.

Read more.
More than 1,000 Nova Scotians Engaged in Community Healthcare Conversations
The tour included 20 sessions, covering more than 5,300 kilometres from Yarmouth to Glace Bay, Liverpool to Springhill. It began in October and wrapped at the end of February.

“Nova Scotians came to these sessions with important concerns and good questions,” said Minister Thompson. “They came with ideas about how to improve education, recruitment and retention, and overall health in our province, and how to offer more primary healthcare. It was clear the people who came to meet with us understand that change is needed, and they are open to doing things differently. I learned a lot, and I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to come or send in a question.”

Read more.
More funding to attract healthcare talent
Investments continue to help communities attract and keep healthcare talent, specifically healthcare talent, including funding to recruit care providers of African descent.

Read more about the additional community investments.
Capital Plan 2023-24 Supports Plan to Build for Healthcare Faster
The government’s capital spending program for the coming year will advance healthcare projects more quickly.

Read more.
Nova Scotia Health Employee Stories
Making Waves: Andrew Heighton honoured with Outstanding Contribution Award for work with COVID-19 Response in Eastern Zone

Andrew Heighton has never been someone to shy away from a challenge. In March 2020, he was returning from parental leave to work in the emergency department at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, when COVID-19 brought the world to a standstill. For many people, the uncertainty and the unknown of COVID-19 were scary. Heighton was drawn to it because he saw an opportunity to provide support and calm to people when they most needed it.

Read more.
From Sudan to Nova Scotia: Meet Dr. Dalia Eldol, Family Physician in Bridgewater

From being born in Sudan and growing up in the United Arab Emirates, to establishing her own practice in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Dr. Dalia Eldol has been on a journey to make a difference in her community.

Read more.
Special retirement: retiring from the Eating Disorders Program after 47 years of service
Tanya Hamilton began her career at the Victoria General Hospital in September 1975, working in the Psychiatry Unit until it was disbanded in the mid-1990s, and psychiatric services were consolidated at the Abbie J. Lane Memorial Building.

In 1996, Tanya was selected to work for the Eating Disorders Program at Abbie Lane and was an instrumental team member for over 27 years, supporting meal experiences, patient weight check-ins, and body image work for patients. With nearly 50 years of dedicated service, Tanya made an immeasurable impact on the lives of thousands of patients and their families. Providing care without judgment and offering acceptance and safety for those who experienced shame because of their illness. Through her time at Nova Scotia Health, she was a source of compassion and care for the many patients who sought support for disordered eating.
Community Health Boards across Nova Scotia call for Wellness Fund applications

Nova Scotia Health Wellness Fund supports community projects across the province that help Nova Scotians lead healthier lives. If you know of a new and innovative non-profit initiative that would benefit from Nova Scotia Health financial assistance, now is the time to apply for Wellness Funds through your local Community Health Board (CHB). Awards range from $250 to $3,000 for eligible projects, with examples ranging from French language youth cooking and babysitters courses in Greenwood to drop-in playgroup for 2SLGBTQ+ parents hosted in Cole Harbour, among many others

There are 37 CHBs across the province. You can apply to more than one CHB if your project occurs in more than one CHB area, but a separate application is required.

Apply here.

The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Monday, May 1.