New Inverness County doctor is ready to help make positive change

April 2, 2023

Inverness County is now home to Dr. Jasmine Lowry, a family medicine specialist, new to Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital alongside Dr. Kathryn Binnersley.

Lowry grew up in southern Ontario. Dalhousie University’s Cape Breton Family Medicine Residency brought her to Inverness.

“I didn’t really have any personal connections here. But I always wanted to work somewhere rural,” Lowry said in an interview with The Participaper.

She and her partner moved here at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. When she saw a newly established family medicine training site in Inverness, she set her mind on it. The couple decided that if they were going to move, they were going to stay and build roots.

“My partner had come here on a work trip once and did a Cabot Trail road trip and convinced me that it was a good place to live,” she said. “So we moved here.”

Life in Inverness County as a young doctor

Enjoying a fall sunset at Inverness Beach.

To Lowry, the culture in Inverness County is fascinating and unique, “everybody is very friendly … it’s a tight-knit community but very welcoming. And people are very curious.”

Lowry said she is still getting her footing but is involving herself in the community. She joined a soccer team in Mabou and gets outdoors as often as she can.

“I love it here … it was initially a bit tricky because of the pandemic socially. It was hard to get out and meet people when the province was in lockdown, but that’s slowly changing,” Lowry said. “Obviously, my work is extremely busy, so that limits me as well.”

People tend to have established social networks here, she noted, which makes it difficult to find a friendship group, and a lot of social events depend on word-of-mouth.

“Being a generation of people who use the internet and don’t know anybody here is a challenge.”

Despite the social challenges and demands of moving to a rural community as a young doctor, she said she believes more and more young people are moving back home to Inverness County or from away.

Why family medicine?

few professions in medicine where doctors can care for patients from across the entire lifecycle from birth to the elderly.

“There’s also variety in the different types of medical topics that we treat, anything from routine checkups to very complicated cardiac patients, diabetes, or every single body system,” she said. “I similarly like working in the emergency department in the hospital, or in the clinic. I like the variety of settings.”

Getting to know her patients well throughout their lifespans is another perk to her job.

“I think that’s super special and unique to family medicine,” she said. “You’re potentially that person that somebody can go to with whatever it is that they are dealing with. It’s a privilege to be able to try to support people through their various struggles. I don’t always know all the answers, but I’m dedicated to finding them.”

Her time at Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital

Lowry came to Inverness primarily for the hospital. The traditional, rural doctor lifestyle was always her aim where she can fully support the community by providing as many services as she can.

“I love the hospital … it’s very fulfilling and you really get to know the people,” she said.

The hospital staff is able to provide an array of services despite the size, she said, adding that the staff is familial and supportive.

“Everybody looks out for each other … I think it really leads to a good continuity of care for patients as well,” Lowry said.

Inverness Hospital and the staff as a whole are incredibly caring and hardworking, she said. In the midst of the province’s healthcare crisis, there were times of burnout. But she thinks given the immense challenges they’ve had to face – the ambulance system not working properly, limited access to specialists, and how transferring people to the regional hospital is “next to impossible sometimes – we’ve persevered quite a lot and we’ve really come together as a community.”

“Hopefully little by little, the strain on larger departments will slow down and more homecare services will become available and there will be more access to family doctors,” she said.

She admitted that as a newcomer to the county, she is still learning, but from what she understands, the staff at the hospital has been extremely kind and everybody is active in trying to make changes to provide the best care possible to the community.

“And I just hope that’s recognized,” she said.

Positive changes to healthcare

Everything is going to take time, Lowry understands, but positive changes are being made.

She said there’s support, but the actual root of the current healthcare crisis is complicated and layered. “I don’t think it’s going to be an easy fix, but I’m optimistic,” she said.

“We just have to remember what we’re here for and always go back to that. And that even when we’re faced with challenges, rather than getting frustrated or angry, we have to take things as they come and try to do the best in the situation that we are presented with and when we have the opportunity to advocate for ourselves and for the community to do that,” she said.

She and Dr. Binnersley have helped relieve the other physicians.

“We bring a different perspective to things, for example, the culture of learning we’re trying to promote,” Lowry said.

She also highlights the residency program, where residents bring a positive culture of learning and growing.

“More and more of the doctors here are supportive of the residents and trying to be involved in teaching, which I think is great,” she said.

A prescription for the outdoors

Access to gyms and workout equipment for homes is also limited, she said.

“I find that a lot of people live a pretty sedentary lifestyle,” she noted.

At some point, she wants to brainstorm more creative ideas to help people feel empowered to be able to be more physically active, which would improve the community’s overall health.

Being somebody that promotes physical activity in nature specifically, she also wants to alert people to the issues of climate change. She said there are numerous opportunities to get outside that people may not know about, “Like the beautiful hiking that’s available currently in West Mabou, I would hate for that to change,” Lowry said.

“It’s a fact that if we continue to destroy our natural ecosystems, with unnatural things that are only available to a very select few wealthy people, that produces more carbon in the atmosphere, and destroys biodiversity, which ultimately will lead to downstream health consequences. And that’s not even an opinion. It’s a fact.”

She is hopeful that positive changes will continue to occur for the health of people in Inverness County, both changes at the hospital amid the healthcare crisis, and changes to help people get outside more often, and she is excited to help be a part of that change.