P.E.I.'s only fertility doctor closing practice

Teresa Wright
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Lindsay Andrews

Woman gathers over 1,100 signatures in 24 hrs calling for immediate replacement

When Lindsay Andrews was told she and her husband had only a five per cent chance of conceiving a child, she was devastated.

“It’s what I’ve wanted since I was five years old,” she said, her voice thick with emotion.

“I can’t imagine life without children.”

She began hormone treatments six months ago in preparation to soon begin fertility treatment.

She is now ready for the next step in trying to conceive a child, but now faces a new obstacle.

The province’s only fertility specialist is closing her practice next month, leaving P.E.I. women who cannot conceive naturally without any local options for fertility services.

Dr. Beverly Brodie is an obstetrician/gynecologist who has been helping Island women with fertility treatments for a number of years in P.E.I.

She informed her patients recently she would be closing her practice on July 15.

When that happens, women in Prince Edward Island will have to travel off-Island for all fertility treatment services.

Currently, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is not offered in P.E.I., but women who want this service can get preliminary tests and preparatory hormone and fertility treatments as well as post-IVF procedures performed on the Island through Brodie’s office.

The Guardian was not able to reach Brodie directly, but Dr. Nadeem Dada, director of medical affairs for Health P.E.I., confirmed Tuesday Brodie is closing her doors in July for personal reasons not related to her practice.

Dada says the news was a surprise to Health P.E.I., calling the situation ‘unfortunate.’

“She was the only physician doing that type of work, fertility work, on Prince Edward Island, so until other arrangements are made or other options become available here on the Island, women will have to get those services elsewhere in the Maritimes.”

That’s what has Andrews and hundreds of other Island women concerned.

The services Brodie provided require almost daily follow up. Andrews says many women will now have to spend a month or longer in another province to get the same treatments.

“It’s going to come to having to take a leave of absence from work just to have this procedure done so that we can have a fair chance at having a family,” Andrews said.

That’s why she has started an online petition calling on the provincial government to immediately hire a replacement fertility specialist.

It attracted over 1,100 signatures of support in just 24 hours.

“I want them to acknowledge us,” Andrews said.

“I want them to acknowledge that there is a need for her services to continue and I don’t want it to be another issue that they just put under the rug because they don’t have the money.”

Dozens of women and men are posting messages to the petition, attributing the successful births of their children to receiving services from Brodie in P.E.I.

“We could not afford to travel to Halifax and miss work for each and every IVF test. Her work as a satellite doctor on P.E.I. is invaluable,” said one message from Janet Needham Payne, echoing many similar messages.

Andrews says she has been overwhelmed by the response.

“Having support makes it that much easier to cope,” she said.

“You can talk to people about being infertile, but people that are not infertile do not understand. They don’t understand the pain, they don’t understand the emotional trauma… It plays on my self-esteem, it plays on my self-worth, it plays on my relationship with my husband, on my relationship with friends and family – it affects every aspect of life and I don’t think people really get that.”

Health P.E.I. says finding a replacement is a priority, but may prove difficult.

Fertility specialists are in high demand, Dada said.

“We will be looking at our options and we will be looking to see if there is an opportunity to replace her with someone who would be doing something similar,” he said.

“However, that is going to be quite a challenge, given that it is a specific area and it’s hard to attract people to do that kind of work here.”

He added Health P.E.I. will be looking at all options, including trying to offer some testing and post-IVF services through existing physician offices in P.E.I.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Health P.E.I.

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • J. I. M.
    June 19, 2014 - 17:53

    I am deeply saddened by the responses to this article. As a person who suffered with infertility, I can completely relate to the author. Those who state that "people should adopt" or relate infertility to abortion issues, obviously have no idea what suffering feels like. Perhaps chemotherapy and radiation treatments should be limited for the smokers? Or perhaps there will be no more knee surgeries for the overweight? These groups would never be turned away so why segregate infertility? It too is a disease. Also, for those who state that the entire IVF procedure is not performed on PEI anyway; infertility is a long and painful journey. Having a doctor to talk to and who has knowledge in the procedures, is essential. Most GP's have no experience or knowledge in this area and there are obviously limited empathetic ears on PEI based on the comments on this article. I, again, speak from experience.

  • B.D.
    June 18, 2014 - 14:08

    Most insurance covers around $1000 a year for infertility treatment which is not much. We do need a replacement here as some people have issues that require extensive follow up which you can not get from a regular gynecologist. As someone who has had to go off Island to see a doctor let me tell you not only is it expensive it is also stressful not being able to go to the doctors office if a problem comes up without driving a few hours. Not to mention if you require hospital stay you are away from home and most family! As for Abortion can someone tell me why the province covers them when it is a medical necessity(and they should) but they don't cover IVF if it is a medical necessity??

  • T.L
    June 18, 2014 - 12:43

    Very unfortunate for PEI to lose such a great doctor but the facts are not all straight here, getting IVF & other such related fertility treatments all have to be directed to a fertility clinic off island there was only a very small portion of pre testing and treatments that are offered here, (yet still not covered by our government) most times all fertility doctors will do whatever testing you can have done in your home province, there is only a small portion of time you need to be away and saying a month or so is very exaggerated, at most for a typical IVF treatment you need to be with the clinic for 5-7 days (where you can receive sick benefits) other appointments deemed necessary usually are made to work with your schedule. At the clinic in Moncton they offer Saturday appointments and are open on all holidays. You do your own hormone treatments and drugs at home. I myself just went through the clinic in Moncton for an IVF cycle and had success, I never once thought twice about having to leave the island and not once on the cost, as having a child to my husband and I had no price tag and limitations. There are tons of medical services not offered on PEI which is to bad but these are facts of life for everyone. Most gynecologist doctors on PEI will do testing on women to help them find out the reasons why they cannot have children. This article makes it sound hopeless for women with fertility issues, like they are doomed. I hope women explore all the options first and realize its not that bad having to travel away for such treatments as in the end if you are blessed with a baby it makes it all worth it...As well look into your health plans if you one because most a lot for some coverage. My planned covered up to $1500.00 a year and as well as my husband. You can also claim the rest on your taxes too. This is only my experience and my opinion.

    • get the facts first
      June 18, 2014 - 14:58

      IVF is not the only type of fertility treatment, and how nice for you that your travel off island was minimal, and that you are in a position where cost, scheduling and time from work were of no concern. It's not like that for many others, but it's great to see you grew into such an expert based on your limited experience. Just because other's lives are not so posh, doesn't mean they don't deserve the same opportunity to have children.

    • J.I.M.
      June 19, 2014 - 17:31

      They do IVF in Moncton? We have very good insurance coverage and they would only cover a portion of medication costs. Also, IVF in Halifax is much longer than 5-7 days. Injections alone can be longer than that and you have to go to the clinic every second day, sometimes every day. Congratulations on a successful treatment.

  • IBC
    June 18, 2014 - 12:36

    Well all you ladies yes it is great to have your own child .Lets look at all those who in the last weeks, what the right to kill their unborn babies . Why not agree to adopt an unwanted child . It is the perfect solution to all and there are no murdered babies in the process . Come now we must get real ,what is it we all want remember we are very small in size and a very poor province .

    • Louise
      June 18, 2014 - 13:50

      Why aren't you adopting all the "unwanted babies"? Facts are, it costs around $12000 for IVF (which we pay out of pocket). It costs $20000+ for most adoptions. They're not just handing out babies at the baby store. And your "murdered babies" business is terrible. When my 12 year old neighbour was raped by her stepdad, you think that she should be forced to carry the result to term and go through the pain of childbirth to boot? Cruel.

    • lynnmackie@hotmail.ca
      June 18, 2014 - 14:48

      why don't you go and try to adopt a child... you'll very quickly learn that the process is extremely convoluted and nearly impossible. I wanted a baby and it didn't matter if it was born from me or someone else. I did try... and I would still take an adopted child if ever given the chance. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Brodie for giving me the experience of having children. Your remarks are totally ignorant in all senses of the word.

  • Fed up
    June 18, 2014 - 11:45

    We can be sure the Ghiz Government will not be bringing in a replacement either! Another "leg" of medicine we will not have access to! No vascular surgeon. No dermatologist. Now no fertility help! No one to read MRIs or ct scans! What next Mr Currie?!? Bragging about all the doctors he has brought in? Ask him how many have LEFT!! At last count..FIFTEEN have left...so much for the 11 he says have come! And most of GPs have been forced out of private practice and made into "Hospitalists!" Recently, THREE had to close practice and become part of Ghiz's plan...leaving over 3000 people without a doctor...3000 MORE people...on top of the previous 8-9000!!! If we don't soon get rid of this bunch, no one will have health care! Currie should have been left as Education Minister....THAT he knew something about! He has absolutely no idea about Medical problems!

  • Joseph
    June 18, 2014 - 09:41

    It will be sad to see her go, if it wasn't for her I wouldn't have a family. For those who haven't gone through the process it's very stressful. She first starts you off with over the counter vitamins ,blood work and sperm test. After 3-4 months she will then start you with pills (not covered by insureance). If this doesn't work she will start you with injections ($) and not covered by insurance. The next step is ivf in Halifax at a price tag of $14,000 plus travel costs, this also is not covered by insurance. Best of luck Dr. Brodie

  • what a world
    June 18, 2014 - 09:24

    I realize that I do not know what it is like to have fertility problems, but it seems strange that there are people having abortions bc they don't want children, then people having treatment because they can't have children. Is there any precedent for a service where these two groups can be lined up for arranged adoptions?

    • Islander
      June 18, 2014 - 10:47

      Women who choose abortion do not want to have a baby, period. They are aware of the option of adoption. You can't switch people around like lego pieces.

  • a very grateful mother
    June 18, 2014 - 08:36

    Thanks to Dr. Brodie and her help, I have a beautiful, bright, perfect child who is the light of my life. I can't imagine my life without him, and he brings tremendous joy to many, many people. When you walk into her office and see the photos of all of the children who are here because of her help, it's overwhelming. I owe the happiest moments of my life to this woman because of her expertise. It saddens me to think that this service will no longer be available on PEI, to the many people who desperately want and deserve their own child.

  • josh
    June 18, 2014 - 01:11

    Any clients for IVF shoudl be required to get signatures of at least 2 different doctors stating that this is medically necessary. If they get that, then they pay their own way to get to Halifax to undergo treatment and get medical services paid by HealthPEI to a maximum cost of $1000.

    • noworries
      June 18, 2014 - 07:29

      IVF costs aprox. $12,000. I see the point you're trying to make but these are totally separate issues.

    • @ josh
      June 18, 2014 - 08:41

      your comments show how absolutely ignorant you are regarding infertility issues. I suffered fertility issues and as a patient of Dr Brodie, I can tell you that it doesn't take 2 doctors signatures to prove you need a fertility specialist when you have been trying to conceive for years without success. And just fyi, not everyone needs IVF. There are many different causes of infertility, and likewise, there are many different treatment options.

  • PE Islander
    June 17, 2014 - 22:45

    We have been patients of Dr Brodie for 3 years. Now we have no options at all. Too bad everybody is too busy fighting over abortion services to pay attention to infertility treatments. Drives me nuts that abortions are funded but fertility treatments are not.

    • Sally S.
      June 18, 2014 - 07:30

      I'm sorry that you have to go through that, I can't imagine how tough that would be. However, abortions are only funded when deemed medically necessary - not just at a whim....there is a process to go through before the government would fund an abortion. Most insurance groups will cover IVF and infertility treatments.

    • IslandWoman
      June 18, 2014 - 07:50

      One has nothing to do with the other.

    • So many misconceptions!
      June 18, 2014 - 08:12

      Sally S...Where are you getting your information! There are ZERO medical plans that will pay for IVF, or even a portion of it! There are also very few plans that cover fertility treatments! Please know your facts before stating incorrect ones!

    • Sally S.
      June 18, 2014 - 09:25

      Woah, slow down there. Why so accusatory? I was merely trying to help the original poster - I had no idea my plan covered such items until looking into it fruther. My plan covers $5,000 for fertility treatments and my husband's plan also covers a portion. I think you need to know the facts before you are so rude and accusatory. My apologies - I will no longer try to help our a fellow women.

    • Inthesameboat
      June 18, 2014 - 09:56

      Sally S, if you really want to help, could you let us know the name of your insurance provider? My own specifically says nothing fertility-related will be covered, and in my experience that's the norm. If there's a provider out there it would be great to know. Thanks.

    • Sally S.
      June 18, 2014 - 10:50

      GWL. I have heard certain Sunlife plans will cover as well. Not sure the name of my husbands - it is a name im not too familiar with. Keep in mind these are employer sponsored plans (not individual plans - not sure what those are like). So if your employer does not include it in their plan...you obviously won't have it. It was not clear in my case as it wasnt written anywhere, all I had to do was call.