New urology program at Yarmouth Regional Hospital

More people in Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties can receive specialized health care services closer to home thanks to collaboration, careful planning and a generous contribution from a Clare community group to the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation. A new urology program began serving patients from across the tri-counties at Yarmouth Regional Hospital in January, 2018.

A number of factors came together to make the new urology program possible in Yarmouth: Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) recognized the need to expand the service; doctors who were able to provide the service in a sustainable way came forward; and the necessary staffing resources and operating room time was made available. Some medical equipment was already in place at Yarmouth Regional Hospital, but more specialized pieces needed to be purchased in order to launch the program. When approached by NSHA, the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation readily agreed to secure the necessary funding for the service.

That’s where the former Saulnierville Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion stepped up to help. Even though Legion Branch 52, along with its women’s auxiliary, had disbanded, the former members still had something to contribute. The group was able to present a lead gift of $25,000 to the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation. While the foundation will still fundraise for the full costs of the service, the lead gift was essential to help purchase the equipment needed to start the urology program.

“There was really no discussion among the members about where to donate this money,” said Emile Dugas, chair of the Clare Veterans Association. “It was unanimous. Everyone was in agreement to support a program that will help veterans and civilians by reducing the need to travel for health care. It’s the right thing to do.”

About 40 per cent of the patients on the Valley Regional Hospital waitlist for urology procedures were from the Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth areas.

Don Cook, chair of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital Foundation, said the gift from the members of the former Clare Legion is an important investment in regional health care services. “Generous lead gifts like we received from the former women’s auxiliary of the Clare Legion allow our Foundation to support more immediate equipment needs in the hospital, and to better plan for other projects,” said Cook. “With the lead gift in place the Foundation will continue to work towards its commitment to raise the balance of $82,000 for the new urology program.”

Urology focuses on medical issues with the male and female urinary-tract system and the male reproductive organs. The urology service consists of surgical procedures, as well as monthly ambulatory care clinics. Three urology surgeons based at Valley Regional Hospital – Drs. Trevor Butler, J.P. McCarthy and Bruce Palmer – now travel to Yarmouth to serve patients.

“Performing more elective urology procedures in Yarmouth creates greater flexibility to be able to handle emergency cases at Valley Regional Hospital, and reduce wait times for urology services within the western zone,” said Tracey Watkins-Allen, NSHA’s western zone director for perioperative and surgical services. “For patients in Digby, Shelburne and Yarmouth counties, this means less travel as they can access more services closer to home.”