The Cape Breton District Health Authority says significant changes are being made to lab services at the Northside General and New Waterford Consolidated hospitals because of staff shortages. District officials are speaking out about the changes after concerns were raised by North Sydney area doctors about the switch to a point-of-care testing system for the collection of blood and other specimens. The District’s vice-president of operations Jim Merkley says similar changes are being rolled out across the province to save money and to allow health authorities to better cope with a shortage of laboratory technologists. Merkley says about a third of the lab technologists in the District are due to retire over the next few years and there aren’t enough new graduates to replace them. He adds the changes in the District will see a significant transfer of the equipment and the analyzers from North Sydney and New Waterford to the regional hospital in Sydney. He says once samples are analyzed, the results will be reported back to doctors and patients at both the Northside and New Waterford hospitals. Merkley adds the centralization of the analytical work will save about 300-thousand dollars a year.
It’s the first day on the job for the CBRM’s new chief administrative officer. Regional Council announced in July that Victoria Mines native Michael Merritt had be hired for the job. Merritt has 32 years of experience in the public service, mostly recently in Alberta, where he was an assistant deputy minister to the Department of Municipal Affairs. Merritt was selected after the Cape Breton Regional Municiaplity paid Toronto-based Organization Consulting Ltd. just under 39-thousand dollars to interview potential candidates and narrow down a short list. Four candidates were initially interviewed for the position. Marie Walsh had served as interim CAO since January of last year and said she was interested in doing the job on a fulltime basis. However, she was passed over for the position. The starting salary for the new CAO is 180-thousand dollars a year.
Ingonish Beach RCMP have arrested two youths in connection to a house fire in Neil’s Harbour. Emergency crews got the call to the blaze at the abandoned home at around 5:00 in the evening on September 19th. Police say they found the house completely engulfed in flames when they arrived on the scene. They add evidence gathered during their investigation led them to arrest two youths from the Neil’s Harbour area who they say are responsible for setting the fire. Police say the investigation is continuing.
The CBRM water utility says a large water main that broke on Main Street in Glace Bay yesterday morning was repaired by yesterday afternoon. Water customers in the area of Phalen Road and Steeles Hill experienced limited or no water due to the break of a 16-inch water line. About 1,200 homes and businesses were affected.
Two religious denominations in Sydney are joining forces in the face of declining church attendance and the rising cost of maintaining church buildings. Members of the Baptist and United Church faith will worship together under the newly merged United Heritage Church. The merger will bring together the congregations of First United, St. Andrew’s United and Trinity United with members of the United Baptist Church. A service to officially establish the new church will take place a week from Sunday. Reverend Gary Burrill who used to be with St. Andrew’s United says he doesn’t know of any other arrangement like this one. He adds the new church is a United Church with a special provision that allows Baptists to keep their membership in the Baptist tradition. The new church will be located in the former United Baptist Church on the corner of Townsend and Charlotte Streets in Sydney.