News

1. ‘Your Doctors Online’ app giving Nova Scotians quick primary care access

Your Doctors Online website

I’ve never heard of the Your Doctors Online app, but as Yvette d’Entremont reports, apparently some Nova Scotians have and they’re using it. d’Entremont spoke with Debbie Smith ,who used it to get an appointment for her daughter after they were treated dismissively by their own family doctor:

After trying to get a spot at a walk-in clinic where people were lined up for the 5pm intake by 3pm, Smith went online desperately searching for another solution.

She stumbled upon an app called Your Doctors Online. All she needed was a valid provincial health card, and it claimed her daughter would be seen. Believing she had nothing to lose, she tried it.

“In less than five minutes I was in to see a doctor,” Smith said.

After a 15-minute consultation, the doctor identified what she believed to be the problem and prescribed an antibiotic. Two hours later, it was ready to pick up at her pharmacy.

“In 15 minutes we had a resolution, and we were like, ‘This is unbelievable,’” Smith said.

d’Entremont also spoke with Yarmouth resident Mona Doucette, who used the app to get a prescription for her chronic ear infections.

Turns out, the Department of Health and Wellness told d’Entremont they don’t know about Your Doctors Online and don’t have an arrangement with the company offering the app. A spokesperson advised Nova Scotians “to be cautious” when they’re asked to provide their health card number to a third-party provider.

Click here to read d’Entremont’s full story.

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2. IWK supply chain ‘robust’ but sometimes they ‘get creative’

The IWK Health Centre in July, 2021. Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

“While a North America-wide shortage of epidural catheter kits used in labour and delivery is on the IWK Health Centre’s radar, pregnant people are being advised there’s no reason to panic here,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.

Two weeks ago the Saskatchewan Health Authority issued a media release advising families expecting a baby to “review pain management options with their care providers” due to the North-America wide supply-chain shortage of the kits.

Used to provide epidural analgesia during labour and epidural anesthesia for cesarean sections, epidural catheter kits are also used for other surgeries and for post-surgery pain management.

“We know where our supplies sit at the IWK and we’re comfortable for the upcoming months. We’re going to be continuing to work with our vendors to ensure that that continues,” Matthew Campbell, executive lead for planning and performance at the IWK Health Centre, said in an interview.

“The epidural issue for us is not a tomorrow, this week, next week (issue). We’re talking about what do we need to be doing today to ensure that a few months from now, we’re still in a healthy, safe position for the health centre.”

In her story, d’Entremont also learns about the other issues the IWK has had bringing in supplies. Fortunately, those issues are rare. Campbell told d’Entremont that over the last two years, on average fewer than 3% of the 1,300 items managed through the hospital’s distribution centre are running short at any given time.

A recent patient at the IWK tweeted out praised for the “creative” ways of the IWK staff when faced with supply shortages during her stay at the hospital.

Click here to read d’Entremont’s full story.

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3. Gold mining

Proposed Goldboro mine plan from p 264 of technical report shows the historic tailings in green downstream from Gold Brook Lake.

On Wednesday CBC reported the province has approved the Goldboro gold mining project in Guysborough County, with conditions.

This morning, Danielle Edwards and Frances Willick at CBC spoke with environmental advocacy groups that are disappointed with the decision to approve the project:

Karen McKendry, the wilderness outreach co-ordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, said in an interview Wednesday that Halman’s decision “shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.”

“Nova Scotia already has a large open-pit gold mine on the Eastern Shore and this is another one proposed,” McKendry said. “The one in Goldboro would actually … mine for years, which leaves behind a huge contaminated site and leads to lots of trucking and diesel fuel use and is very polluting, to line the pockets and the coffers of people to make them richer and returns very little, if anything, to Nova Scotia.”

In her opinion, McKendry said the approval represented the government’s buckling to pressure from the gold mining industry. She also spoke of potential arsenic contamination in waterways and across the wetlands in the area, which she called the province’s “kidneys.”

“Those (wetlands) are needed for cleaning our water, for carbon capture,” she said. “(They’re) one of the last refuges for the endangered mainland moose, and so this project, like many others, proposes to destroy dozens and dozens of wetlands, including ones with species at risk in them.”

Robert Dufour, the chief financial officer of Signal Gold, told CBC the company was reviewing the conditions that came with the approval:

“We were certainly confident starting the process that we had put together a very comprehensive environmental assessment,” he said. “It’s always exciting when you get that approval.”

Joan Baxter has been reporting extensively on gold mining in the province, including mining on the Eastern Shore. Her work includes a three-part in-depth look at Anaconda Mining/Signal Gold and the company’s now-approved Goldboro site. Here are part onetwo, and three of her investigation, Anaconda Mining joins the gold rush on Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore.

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4. Don’t flush your wipes

Halifax Water headquarters in November 2019. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Brett Ruskin at CBC got a tour of Halifax Water’s pumping station this week. The station is located four storeys below Barrington Street and the entrance to it is in a small brown home on Duffus Street.

As you may have heard, Halifax Water’s been having issues with some of its pumps; three of them failed in the last two months, prompting Halifax Water to send out warnings to not swim in the Halifax Harbour and to limit how often users flush their toilets.

Ruskin met with Halifax Water spokesperson, Jake Fulton, and got a look at how the pumps work:

The underground pumping station uses powerful and complicated equipment to perform a simple task: lift sewage higher.

Everything flushed down toilets, emptied from bathtubs, or drained out of washing machines, flows downhill through pipes to treatment facilities. But along the way, those gravity-powered pipes end up below the level of the destination facility, said Fulton.

That’s why the city has pumping stations.

The Duffus Street facility — and dozens more like it — collect wastewater in a giant basin. Water flows from Larry Uteck, Clayton Park, Fairview, and the north half of the peninsula into the Duffus Street pumping station.

“Here a pump raises it to another point in the system, so it can then flow by gravity to the wastewater treatment facility,” Fulton said.

The house on Duffus Street that hides the entrance to Halifax Water’s pumping station. Photo: Google Maps

Ruskin learned there are two pumps that move sewage through three pipes. One of the pumps failed in June and then the backup failed in July. Halifax Water got a replacement pump and then that one failed, too, leaving filtered, but untreated wastewater going into the harbour.

A new pump was being installed on Tuesday and emergency repairs were being done that night, but then the system got clogged again with rags and wipes.

Here’s a bit of advice to remember until everything gets fixed: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down! And don’t flush your wipes!”

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5. New recovery centre in Middleton

Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton. Photo: NSH

A new recovery centre in Middleton will offer supports to Nova Scotians with gambling or substance use disorders.  

In a press release this morning, the province announced that the Wellness and Withdrawal Management Program at Soldiers Memorial Hospital will provide in-person assessments, outpatient withdrawal management, and recovery support programming such as one-on-one and group supports. Staff with the program will also be able to connect people with other care, such as programs offered by community mental health and addictions clinics or opioid recovery programs.  

“We have come one step closer with the recovery support centre model coming to Middleton to our goal of providing quality care for people with substance use disorders no matter where they live in Nova Scotia,” said Dr. Dave Martell, Physician Lead, Addictions Medicine, Mental Health and Addictions Program, Nova Scotia Health, in the press release. “The way we care for people with addictive disorders continues to evolve as new research comes to light and our care models should always reflect current science.” 

The centre in Middleton will have a nurse practitioner, physician, nurses, social workers, counsellors, an occupational therapist and administrative staff. 

This centre is the third to open under the province’s new recovery support centre model. The first centre opened in Dartmouth in January and the second in New Glasgow in February. Ten recovery support centres will open across the Nova Scotia over the next two years.   

To access supports at the Middleton program, drop in to the centre for services or call 902-825-0207 for an appointment. The hours are Monday to Friday between 7:30am and 7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. You can also call the Mental Health and Addictions Intake Service at 1-855-922-1122, Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 4:30pm. That line has extended hours until 8pm on Tuesdays.  

You can also get a referral through a family physician, emergency departments, and community mental health and addiction clinics. 

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Views

The real meaning of aging well

Anti-aging needles its ways into our lives. Photo: Gustavo Fring/ Unsplash

The other week I was at my local drug store when the clerk asked me if I qualified for the discount they offered to their customers who are age 55 and older. I laughed out loud and declined (I’m 51). The clerk assured me that asking wasn’t meant as an insult, adding that he’s not great a guessing someone’s age because he’s from Cape Breton where “everyone looks over the age of 40” (his words, not mine!!)

Now, I am at the age where anti-aging talk is everywhere. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more now. And you don’t even need to be older to have the anti-aging industry pushed on you.

Last week a nurse practitioner shared a video on TikTok that almost immediately got blasted on Twitter. The nurse practitioner named Miranda Wilson shared a photo of actress Natalia Dyer who stars in Stranger Things. Wilson, who calls herself an expert “injector,” shared all the work she’d do on Dyer’s already youthful and attractive face (I am guessing she did this without Dyer’s consent). Wilson’s suggestions included slimming out Dyer’s massaters, (a word I never heard until that video,) filling out her chin, making her lips a bit poutier, and then fixing her brow with some Botox. The video wrapped up with a Photoshopped picture of Dyer with a completely new face. Dyer, I should mention, is just 27.

Injector Miranda Wilson gives her suggestions on the work actress Natalia Dyer might get. Photo: TikTok

Days after, Wilson shared a half-arsed apology video in which she said her job as an injector is to look at faces and make suggestions. She used an older photo of herself to show the work she herself had had done.

I like a good skincare routine — I’m a woman in my 50s with incredibly pale and sensitive skin. I also avoid baking in the sun, which spares me from burning like a lobster. If people want to get work done on their faces, they can fill their boots (or lines), but I can’t imagine spending a lot of money on getting work done because, well, I am kind of cheap.

Even my family doctor is offering Botox treatments, which I know can be used for medical reasons, but the clinic seems to be pushing the treatments for ironing out wrinkles. If you have laugh lines doesn’t that mean you’ve laughed a lot? How is this bad?

Then over the weekend, I saw posts for local “medical” spas where you can get Botox and all sorts of other anti-aging treatments. You can put medical in front of spa, but let’s face it, this is not health care; it’s aesthetics.

Are these kinds of anti-aging treatments creeping into our health care system? You know, that “complementary, integrated medicine,” some of which is a scam. Am I overthinking it? Sure, you have to wait hours at the emergency department, if you get in at all, but you can pay a doctor to get Botox so at least you’ll look young while waiting.

There’s big money to be made in the anti-aging industry. Emily Stewart at Vox wrote this article, How the anti-aging industry turns you into a customer for life, last week:

We’ve learned to pretend to celebrate older women, but we haven’t learned to accept what happens naturally to their skin. We celebrate older women but not the un-intervened-upon face. This fuels a multibillion-dollar cosmetic and skin care industry dedicated to helping people — mainly women — stay young, or rather, try to look like it. According to data from Euromonitor International, the anti-aging market grew from $3.9 billion in 2016 to $4.9 billion in 2021 in the United States alone. The global anti-aging market went from $25 billion to nearly $37 billion during the same period.

“Anti-aging is probably the most popular and lasting promise of any sort of skin care brand or injectable,” said Jessica DeFino, a beauty writer and author of The Unpublishable, a newsletter focused on the darker sides of the beauty industry. “Youth is the ultimate goal, and obviously very convenient for the industry, because it’s an impossible goal.”

Again, because I am 51, I do think about aging, but not about the work I need done on my face. I think about keeping my body moving (hello, pole dancing), eating more vegetables and less sugar (I like my veggies and sugar), and ways to keep my brain active. I also think about putting some money aside for my kid, what legacy I’ll leave behind for her, and what fun I can have.

Like you, I’m sure, I have friends and classmates who are my age and younger who have died or are now living with illnesses like cancer. Some of them chronicle their lives and health on social media and not once do I see them talk about the anti-aging work they want done. They share photos of their kids and the adventures they’re having, which is far more beautiful. That’s because there’s a huge difference between looking young and living and aging well. You can try to look young, but aging and having more birthdays is a good thing.

According to Stewart at Vox, the anti-aging industry is targeting women in their 20s to get work done. And once you start, it’s tough to stop:

Polls show women express concern about looking old when they are quite young, in their 20s and 30s, and begin to take action to combat it. In fact, some surveys suggest older women feel better about their bodies as they age than younger women. That young women start to worry so early helps companies to sell more.

“The target group for anti-aging products has gotten younger and younger,” said Kayla Villena, industry manager for beauty and personal care at market research firm Euromonitor. She noted that now, the target age for anti-aging products — which often aren’t called that anymore — starts at around 25. “That’s for more prevention.”

“Once they sell you on the idea that you need to anti-age, they have a customer for life,” DeFino said. “You always need another product or syringe or surgery.”

Also the creep of these treatments being promoted as health care ignores that there are bigger solutions that can help us age well like affordable housing, food security, and fighting off loneliness and isolation. What can the “medical spas” do about that? What is our province doing about that?

I look forward to accepting those 55-plus discounts at the drugstore. It means I am aging well enough to save a few bucks. And looking like a Cape Bretoner over the age of 40 ain’t a bad thing either.

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Noticed

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a Morning File about that ubiquitous saying, “live, laugh, love.” 

Well, since then a few people have sent me photos of items with that on them — including dumpsters, of all things. Here’s one someone shared on Twitter on Wednesday:

Live, laugh, love dumpter. Photo: Girl Friday/Twitter

But the dumpsters have other positive words on them. Here’s a photo Tim Jacques shared in the same Twitter thread:

Philip Moscovitch sent these photos to me:

Love live dumpster. Photo: Philip Moscovitch
Even a dumpster needs to be itself. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

I guess I haven’t been looking at dumpsters too closely, but it turns out, at least one of the companies that owns and rents out these dumpsters has been adding the sayings for quite some time.

Back in 2013, CBC New Brunswick wrote this story about Fero, the Moncton-based waste management company that puts the sayings on its dumpsters. As CBC reported then, some of the sayings Fero added to the dumpsters include Never Give Up, Seize the Day, Don’t Do Drugs, Stay in School, Smile, Be Happy and Safe:

Andrew King, the company’s director of special projects, said the staff draw up the messages on a computer and then print each one onto decals.

The messages are added to the dumpsters when they are returned to the shop for repairs or a new paint job.

“If we can have an effect on somebody, somewhere, at some time, we thought that would be a great way to do it,” King said.

King said there’s no agenda underlying the messages or major commercial benefit to display them.

He said it’s just something that helps Fero — Be Happy.

I will never live, laugh, love this down.

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Government

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

Visiting Chemistry Seminar (Thursday, 11am, Chemistry Room 226) — Paul Hayes from the University of Lethbridge will talk

PhD Defence, Medical Neuroscience (Thursday, 1:30pm, online) — Tareq Yousef will defend “Nitric Oxide Neuromodulation of Vertebrate Gap Junction-Coupled Retinal Horizontal Cells”

PhD Defence, Physics and Atmospheric Science (Thursday, 2pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building and online) — Brendan Brady will defend “Exploring Transient Neural Events in Healthy Populations Using Non-Invasive Neuroimaging”

Friday

PhD Defence, Civil and Resource Engineering (Friday, 10am, online) — Soraya Roosta will defend “Seismic Performance Assessment of All-Masonry Infilled Frames Using Finite Element Study”


In the harbour

Halifax
07:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Bedford Basin anchorage from Saint-Pierre
11:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Anchorage #5 (near Dartmouth Cove) to Autoport
11:30: Hyundai Force, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
14:00: BBC Austria, cargo ship, arrives at anchorage from Dos Bocas, Mexico
15:00: NYK Meteor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Hamburg, Germany
17:00: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 41
17:30: BBC Austria moves to Pier 9

Cape Breton
17:30: Algoma Value, bulker, sails from Coal Pier (Point Tupper) for sea


Footnotes

Quiet summer news daze …


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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. Speaking of aging – I was in Ireland last month and a friend and I went to The Little Museum of Dublin. My friend asked for two tickets and the young person selling tickets looked at me and said, “we have three prices: student, regular, and experienced.” I asked how experienced one had to be and she said I was “experienced” enough. Why would anyone ever want an anti-experience cream/injection?