"Staffing challenges" made microbiology service at the Bridgewater hospital such that it was incapable of continuing, the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) said, resulting in most of the clinical service shifting to North Kentville a couple of months ago.
"In order to avoid unplanned service disruptions and ensure ongoing, high-quality microbiology testing services for South Shore Regional Hospital, most clinical microbiology services in the western zone were moved to Valley Regional Hospital," NSHA spokeswoman Carla Adams told LighthouseNOW in an email.
"This change is similar to those adopted in central and eastern zones, where best practice service delivery models not only improve quality, but ensure services are sustainable."
Adams said there were no job losses as a result of the change. The microbiology service delivery model at [the Bridgewater hospital] was not sustainable due to staffing challenges."
In fact, Adams said, microbiology service hours expanded in Bridgewater as it's now provided in the western zone, which includes the Glen Allan Drive hospital, on days, evenings, weekends and holidays.
Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland raised the issue recently in the House of Assembly.
"On top of short-staffed hospitals, overworked staff, and Emergency Rooms that are closed more often than not, now services are being removed entirely from a regional hospital," the Progressive Conservative member said in the House.
Health Minister Randy Delorey suggested a factor in the decision was technological advances which he said improved the ability to provide different types of tests in different ways.
The move worries Masland.
"Mr. Speaker, it started with nurses taking blood instead of lab assistants. Then came the wave of resignations. With the removal of the department, wait times will increase as we wait for the samples to be transported by taxi to Kentville," she said.
"Maybe when I make my weekly Facebook post informing my constituents about Roseway Hospital [in Shelburne County] being closed, I'll have to start adding a list of services that have been removed from our area. I'm no expert, but I don't think cutting services and making things less accessible to rural Nova Scotians is a solution our health care system has been looking for."