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Thessalon Hospital closure averted

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A holiday shutdown of the emergency department at the Town of Thessalon's hospital has been averted. Now, officials are working on finding a solution to the doctor shortage that led to the potential shutdown in the first place.

Richard Joly, president and CEO of the North Shore Health Network, said thanks to ongoing cooperation among northern healthcare partners, Thessalon's emergency department will stay open.

"Access to services has been secured and the closures have been totally averted in the short term," said Joly. "But we are looking to medium and long-term solutions for those communities to ensure we recruit and retain physicians."

Thessalon Mayor Bill Rosenberg said word of a possible emergency department closure was causing anxiety among residents and he's happy to hear it will stay open.

"It was on everybody's mind that we were going to be shut down," Rosenberg said. "It's the greatest news. It's a Christmas miracle come a few days early."

Meantime, Joly said the doctor shortage in northern Ontario must be addressed to prevent any future scares and an option being explored is the family health team model.

"The team is larger for the physician, and especially in a small community, a physician is supported by allied professionals, physio, maybe additional nursing and so on," Joly said.

"That concept exists - it does exist in Blind River and many other communities."

Rosenberg agrees, adding the way healthcare is delivered in small, northern communities will have to change. He said acting independently is a thing of the past and he sees the healthcare network from St. Joe's Island to Blind River working as one.

Joly credits Sault Area Hospital (SAH) for playing a big part in averting a shutdown of Thessalon's emergency department. He said SAH is re-adjusting and seeking doctors to assist in covering the emergency room over the holidays and into next month.

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