GUYSBOROUGH – Family members and colleagues of Elaine MacMaster gathered at the Chedabucto Lifestyle Centre on July 28 for a ceremony to dedicate the Guysborough Memorial Hospital palliative care room in her name.
MacMaster, who was committed to her profession and the health and wellbeing of the people in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG), concluded her career in nursing as facility manager of both the Guysborough Memorial Hospital and Eastern Memorial Hospital in Canso when she retired in 2017.
Too soon after that retirement, she tragically died in a motor vehicle accident in October 2020.
Bill Innis, chair of the Guysborough Memorial Hospital Foundation, spoke to those gathered about MacMaster and her contribution to healthcare in the area. MacMaster was a driving force behind the redevelopment of the Guysborough Memorial Hospital and the centralization of medical services under one roof said Innis, adding, “She worked hard by first convincing the senior leadership of GASHA (Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority) at that time, that something needed to be done.”
For several years, MacMaster pushed for the project and helped secure funding through meeting with the MODG council, where a commitment of $800,000 was made for the redevelopment plan.
Innis said, “That blew us away.”
And it led to a successful community fundraising campaign to move the project forward.
“Part of that project is not just the addition that everybody sees, the Dr. Anita Foley Health Service Centre,” said Innis, “but part of it was the redevelopment of the hospital itself. There were changes made to the nursing area in the ER, the lab area; but one specific change that happened was the addition of the palliative care room. And Elaine really pushed that one hard. Originally that wasn’t going to happen.”
Innis said of working with MacMaster, “One of Elaine’s favourite words was vested. She would always talk about people being vested in the community. But there was no one more vested in our community than Elaine. She knew the importance of healthcare and rural healthcare.”
With that in mind, and with everything that has happened since that time, the foundation decided to dedicate the palliative care room to the memory of MacMaster, Innis said.
Madonna MacDonald, vice-president of health services for Nova Scotia Health – previously vice-president of integrated health services for GASHA – spoke to the family about both her work and personal relationship with MacMaster at the dedication ceremony.
She talked about MacMaster’s commitment and dedication to health and the community and said, “It was a privilege and pleasure to work with Elaine,” adding that before MacMaster retired she left a long wish list for the community in Guysborough.
“I’ve worked with a lot of nurses, and I think nursing, for some, is really a vocation, a calling in terms of how you live and work for the public and Elaine really exemplified nursing as a vocation,” MacDonald said.
“In her own special way, she had an ability to see what worked and things that would be even more challenging in rural healthcare in Nova Scotia … I carry a lot of her advice both personally and professionally,” said MacDonald.
Gary MacMaster, Elaine’s husband, spoke on behalf of the family, thanking the organizers of the dedication ceremony, saying, “It warms everybody’s heart.”
MacDonald concluded her remarks stating, “Thank you for letting us recognize her incredible commitment to health in this community and I wish you the best.”