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Berwick zeroing in on physician recruitment, considering application for provincial funding

Smiling spectators lined Commercial Street Sept. 2 as the Berwick Gala Days parade passed through town. ADRIAN JOHNSTONE PHOTOS
Smiling spectators lined Commercial Street Sept. 2 as the Berwick Gala Days parade passed through town. Gala Days is one of many community events locals are hoping appeal to prospective doctors. Berwick will soon be implementing a promotions campaign to entice doctors to move to the town. ADRIAN JOHNSTONE
BERWICK, N.S. —

Situated in the middle of the Annapolis Valley with plenty of local and regional amenities at hand, a mere 15 minutes from commanding views of the Bay of Fundy and surrounded by pastoral beauty, Berwick is a great place to call home.

This is the message a group of health-care professionals, local politicians, public servants and residents want to convey to doctors looking for a place to practice and call home.

“It certainly is a hot-button topic,” said Town of Berwick chief administrative officer Michael Payne, a member of an ad hoc physician recruitment committee for the town.

Payne said Berwick is looking to bring in more physicians, specifically to work as part of the local collaborative care system in town.
“Like everyone else, we’re looking for ways to attract physicians to the town and the region,” Payne said.

A windfall of provincial support may soon bolster this effort. In August, Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine, MLA for Kings West, announced a new program to help communities in Nova Scotia attract doctors.

The $200,000 Healthy Communities Stream under Nova Scotia’s Culture Innovation Fund subsidizes physician recruitment and retention efforts by community groups.

Information on the provincial website states that a maximum of $25,000 is available for community recruitment efforts through the program.

Berwick, Payne noted, is looking into an application for some of that funding.

“What we plan to do will be through that development,” Payne said. “They’ve opened up an existing fund to facilitate proposals for funding to make efforts to attract physicians to your area. When you look at the funding criteria you see the word ‘promotion’ used a lot.”


PROMOTION

Promotion is the magic word for the Western Kings Memorial Health Society, a group working with the local recruitment committee to bring doctors to Berwick.
One place that money could go is a campaign showing prospective doctors that Berwick is a great place to live and make a living.

“We’re in the very early stages of contacting representatives,” Payne said. “We’re going to brainstorm on what we could do and submit an application.”

Mike Larsen said the Western Kings Memorial Health Society has been working for the last few months on strategy development.
“We are looking at ways the community can get involved in the physician recruitment process,” said Larsen, who is manager and board secretary for the Western Kings Memorial Health Society.

Although it’s too early in the planning process to get into specifics regarding what sorts of promotion efforts Berwick and the group will use, Larsen said, “we’re trying to do the same thing every community in Nova Scotia is. We’re trying to involve ourselves as much as possible with the Nova Scotia Health Authority to help with the physician recruitment process.”

Larsen said future efforts may include marketing material.

“That includes things we can get into the hands of physicians willing to relocate into the Annapolis Valley or Berwick,” Larsen said. “We wouldn’t have any specifics on what that necessarily looks like at this point.”

Sam.macdonald@kingscountynews.ca

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