More doctors needed

Dave Stewart, The Guardian
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Wade MacLauchlan

A grassroots advocacy group will release a report Thursday on changes it says are needed in the P.E.I. health care system.

The Eastern Kings arm of Islandwide Hospital Access has scheduled a public meeting for 7 p.m. at Souris Regional High School. Storm date is Feb. 25.

The report deals with wait times at emergency rooms, patients without doctors, need to restructure Health P.E.I., need to restructure the College of Physicians and Surgeons into a Maritime college as well as other aspects of the health care system.

Alan MacPhee, chairman of the Eastern Kings group, said the local concern is that there are simply not enough doctors at Souris Community Hospital.

He says Souris has been reduced to a complement of four doctors, but are operating with just two, leading to a loss of services at the hospital as of this month. With 3,585 people per doctor, MacPhee says it is the highest ratio in the province and twice the provincial average of 1,491 people per doctor.

"While the crisis in Souris is extremely important and has negative implications on access in Montague and Charlottetown, we have to look at the greater failure which is the structure and delivery of health care on P.E.I.,'' MacPhee says.

"We met with Health P.E.I. last February and our concerns over doctor access were ignored. Now we are in crisis. There are four-hour waits for emergency service in Montague and seven- to eight-hour waits in Charlottetown.''

A spokeswoman with Health P.E.I. said they have not seen the report and cannot comment at this time. However, Health P.E.I. did provide a statement in regards to the physician complement.

"We can say that we continue to actively recruit to fill the physician complement in Kings County and are exploring opportunities to make the best use of the resources we have to meet the needs of patients in Souris and Montague,'' the Health P.E.I. statement read.

"While the crisis in Souris is extremely important and has negative implications on access in Montague and Charlottetown, we have to look at the greater failure which is the structure and delivery of health care on P.E.I." Alan MacPhee, chairman of the Eastern Kings arm of Islandwide Hospital Access.

MacPhee says there is a lack of accountability, deliverability and collaboration in Health P.E.I. and things need to change.

Souris Mayor David MacDonald calls the situation inexcusable.

"We have had this inexcusable situation in Souris for over a decade and it's time to get it fixed,'' MacDonald says. "The premier has promised four doctors in Souris and we expect him to make that promise come true sooner rather than later.

"We simply can't afford to be in crisis any longer and it isn't fair to the people in this area.''

MacPhee says government has responded to the area's concerns before, citing things like Islandwide dialysis, maintaining acute bed service, maintaining laboratory and diagnostic services and increasing ambulance coverage.

Winnie McKie, a member of the seniors' federation, says things need to change.

"Ambulance and physician access has been a big issue for seniors across P.E.I. and especially in this region,'' McKie said.

Anne MacPhee, chairwoman of the Eastern Kings community council, said the deterioration of health care services has a detrimental effect on rural P.E.I.

"It is difficult to attract population growth when access to family physicians and basic health care is being gutted,'' Anne MacPhee said.

The advocacy group has invited Premier Wade MacLauchlan to Thursday's meeting as well as Health Minister Robert Henderson and Cardigan MP Lawrence MacAulay.

Organizations: College of Physicians, Maritime college, Health P.E.I. Islandwide Hospital Access Souris Regional High School Souris Community Hospital

Geographic location: Souris, Eastern Kings, Montague Charlottetown Kings

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Recent comments

  • Island debt
    February 09, 2016 - 12:53

    This is the same story that Robert Ghiz crowed about for years and not much was done.Trim some of those public service workers at Health PEI and also trim the MLAs,who just seem to be twiddling their fingers that would save alot of money. Then maybe the province could afford 10 doctors for each county.STOP talking and start doing some good for islanders for a change.

  • townie2
    February 09, 2016 - 07:46

    the trouble is, we are in a bidding war for Doctor's with richer, more populous Provinces who can afford the latest equipment, bigger hospitals, more specialists, better support system, regular hours, etc. perhaps we should go with Nurse Practitioners, i wouldn't have a problem with having one, this isn't just a rural problem, i live in Charlottetown and haven't had a Family Doctor in almost four years..........and yes Andy Raynor, Doctors do leave here, my Doctor moved to Halifax.

  • Kings County Resident
    February 08, 2016 - 19:26

    I think it's time to shut Souris hospital down. With no emergency room and only 17 beds open, (open, rarely occupied) it is just a waste of resources. The best solution would be to amalgamate with Montague, and work together as "Kings Health Region" to get a new facility that is central to all locations between East Point and Beach Point. Pooles Corner or Bridgetown perhaps. Even if there is an accident in East point, that person has to go to Montague or Charlottetown regardless of if there's a hospital in Souris. But what Souris wants, Souris gets. It won't be shut down anytime soon.

    • Souris Resident
      February 09, 2016 - 09:00

      Souris Hospital actually is at capacity most of the time. We are not looking to reopen emergency, we just want enough doctors to cover our population. "But what Souris wants, Souris gets"- I only hope so, because we currently have 1 physician per 3500 people, nowhere else on the island would ever be put in such a awful situation.

  • Andy Rayner
    February 08, 2016 - 19:25

    Historically, we have never had as many doctors as we have right now on PEI. This doctor shortage is a fabricated false illusion. The real issue is the province gives doctors too much sway. They take on less than half the patience they used to. Most were seeing 1500-3000. Now they will only take on 800. And they are among the highest paid in Canada, for the least amount of client patient work. PEI doctors have it easy. The provincial health board has been trying to ask Doctors for more activity for the hugly disproportionate pay for the small services rendered, because they knowasking them to take less money upsets them. Therefore, our only ootion is to ask for better service for our premium paid doctors. The Province intererfeers with the health board asking for mire service for fear of making Dr's upset. They will not leave they have it too good.

  • Poor Old Taxpayer Ted
    February 08, 2016 - 18:15

    The province should do away with their free handouts to their "Bank of Friends" and let these so-called entrepreneurs talk to a loans officer at a local chartered bank - if they are looking for a loan - just like every other citizen. If their business is not profitable, then shut it down. The taxpayers of the province should not be bailing out these leeches in the name of tourism, community development, etc. These "EXCUSES" are merely propped up reasons by the politicians to justify their actions. The province of PEI has handed out $millions and written many of the loans off, but they are still on the books, so it's easy to see why there's no money for healthcare, education and other essential services. Until this lunacy stops, essential services will continue to disappear and taxes will continue to rise to pay for the money being squandered to party friends. Funny eh how the only time you hear a politician talk about recruiting more doctors and nurses is election time...hmmm...I wonder why?

  • Nurse practitioners are the way to go
    February 08, 2016 - 16:24

    "We can say that we continue to actively recruit to fill the physician complement in Kings County and are exploring opportunities to make the best use of the resources we have to meet the needs of patients in Souris and Montague,'' Perhaps the option of nurse practitioners needs to be explored at this time and perhaps should have been explored before " crisis" mode was hit. Nurse practitioners are a great addition to the health care system, they work as primary health care providers and provide many of the essential services that doctors provide. They are also a cost effective option. That seems like the best use of resources, rather than continuously trying to recruit physicians.

  • Islander
    February 08, 2016 - 11:59

    Exactly right. Could someone explain why need that many MLA'S in a Province of 145000. They talk about reducing small communities and are pushing amalgamation. Why not have a review of the number of MLAS and their duties. How much in total are they costing us. One ot two per region is all that is required.

    • ..farmer´s daughter..
      February 08, 2016 - 17:53

      You are so right Islander, I would take it a couple of steps further. We are being totally bogged down in the Maritimes with Governments and public employees. Establish one Government for the three Maritime Provinces, cut MLA´s and public servants and use the savings to improve our Health Care and Education, as well as look after our Seniors. Heck, our taxes might even go down....daydreaming...

  • Unacceptable
    February 08, 2016 - 11:03

    This situation is terrible and will only continue to worsen if not resolved in short time. Health PEI can only recognize a problem when it is already too late. Glad to see Wedge gone, but there is plenty more there that should follow suit.

  • don
    February 08, 2016 - 10:01

    what we need is a cut of 50% or more less mla's and that will help pay for more doctors as doctors are more useful then mla's...............

    • Sammy
      February 08, 2016 - 12:48

      And fewer trips to India and other exotic places around the world where PEI has no place being.... out

    • don
      February 08, 2016 - 15:48

      but wade like jt and wes,ghiz etc has a bottomless bank account. but i want to know how many hundreds or thousands of jobs has wade got coming to PEI? i heard 5 and how many thousands of bucks did those 5 cost us so far?