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Nova Scotia health minister defends system after cancer patient's public challenge

Inez Rudderham made a Facebook post in which she said she went undiagnosed with anal cancer for two years because she didn’t have a family doctor. Today Health Minister Randy Delorey responded.
Inez Rudderham made a Facebook post in which she said she went undiagnosed with anal cancer for two years because she didn’t have a family doctor. Today Health Minister Randy Delorey responded. - Herald composite

Nova Scotia’s health minister defended the state of the province’s health system amid a huge reaction to a video posted by a woman with cancer.

Over 2.6 million people have viewed Inez Rudderham’s Facebook post in which she said she went undiagnosed with anal cancer for two years because she didn’t have a family doctor and was turned away at emergency departments. Rudderham has also sought mental health treatment but she said that won’t happen until July.

Probably going to regret this but I’m so done.

Posted by Marilyn Inez on Tuesday, April 23, 2019

“To the premier of Nova Scotia, I dare you to take a meeting with me and look into my eyes and tell me there is no health-care crisis in my province of Nova Scotia,” Inez said in the video in which she calls herself the face of the province’s health-care crisis.

Premier Stephen McNeil said he’s told the Nova Scotia Health Authority to contact the woman and said he commiserated with her. In a statement this week, McNeil didn’t say whether he plans to meet with Rudderham.

Health Minister Randy Delorey told reporters Friday he couldn’t comment on individual cases but he defended the Liberals’ investments in health care, pointing out the $40 million that was spent last year to increase physician compensation and other programs such as additional residency seats at the Dalhousie Medical School.

“I think our efforts are starting to pay off. Are we all the way there? No. Are we going to continue our efforts to improve health-care service in Nova Scotia. Yes.”

Delorey also noted Cancer Care Nova Scotia has a psychiatrist available for cancer patients with a wait of about two weeks for counselling.

“In general our cancer care program does provide a comprehensive response to cancer patients and treatments and that includes psychological support. ...

“I know everyone who has seen that video has expressed concern, they’re (health authority) going to follow up and make that contact and move forward appropriately.”

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the province’s response to the woman’s plight was inadequate.

“This video is a powerful expression of how deeply our health-care system is in crisis,” Burrill said in a tweet Friday. “I think when you compare the authenticity and directness of her story with the response from the premier, I find what he has to say is superficial and empty.”

RELATED: Nova Scotia mom with cancer challenges premier: ‘Tell me there is no health-care crisis’

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