by Andrew Rankin


July 1, 2023

MIDDLETON, N.S. — While a man lay dying at Soldiers Memorial Hospital from heart failure, a doctor who may have been able to save him was raking leaves in his yard less than 10 minutes away.


The answer to that question goes back months.

Let’s start with this email.

“Soldiers Memorial Hospital-Middleton ** Critical **”

That was the subject line of Cheryl Pugh’s message, that wound up in the inbox of about 100 Nova Scotia doctors, five days before Christmas. Pugh, Nova Scotia Health’s medical executive director for the western zone, explained that the hospital’s emergency department was in dire need of doctors.

“Flagging an urgent need for Emergency coverage at Soldiers Memorial in Middleton,” she wrote. “Can you please advise if there are any Emergency physicians able to assist?”

The emergency room had lost three doctors in a span of a year. Since June 2022, the ER had been reduced to operating each day from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Now the hospital was struggling to maintain even those hours.

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