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Doctor dilemma: Group believes Health P.E.I. has given up on efforts to recruit physician, nurse practitioner to Crapaud

Members of South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. and local women’s institutes display copies of a petition, containing 1,371 signatures, presented to the P.E.I. legislature last month. The group is advocating for a full-time physician and two nurse practitioners in Crapaud. From left are Matt MacFarlane, co-chairman of the SSHWI, Fran Albrecht of the Tryon Women’s Institute, Lisa Gallant, secretary of the SSHWI, and Heather Dixon of the Augustine Cove Women’s Institute.
Members of South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. and local women’s institutes display copies of a petition, containing 1,371 signatures, presented to the P.E.I. legislature last month. The group is advocating for a full-time physician and two nurse practitioners in Crapaud. From left are Matt MacFarlane, co-chairman of the SSHWI, Fran Albrecht of the Tryon Women’s Institute, Lisa Gallant, secretary of the SSHWI, and Heather Dixon of the Augustine Cove Women’s Institute. - Stu Neatby
CRAPAUD, P.E.I. —

A group of South Shore residents believes health officials are attempting to centralize health care in urban areas, away from Crapaud.  

Matt MacFarlane, co-chairman of South Shore Health and Wellness Inc., says former patients of Dr. Henrik Visser, who is retired, have been divided between one nurse practitioner in Crapaud and one in Cornwall.

Visser had practised as a family doctor in Crapaud for years. Before retiring in 2017, his patient load was 2,300.

"Once you (go) in to see the nurse practitioner in Cornwall, your chart goes there, and that's where your care is going to be carried forward," MacFarlane said.

"There seems to be a subtle guidance of patients from this area toward the Cornwall facility. And once you're there, you're there."

MacFarlane said the wait times are up to four weeks for the Crapaud nurse practitioner, while the wait times in Cornwall are about a week. The Crapaud nurse practitioner has a caseload of about 600 patients, he said. 

The group has been advocating for both nurse practitioners to be based in Crapaud. 

Several women’s institutes from neighbouring communities have also launched a petition drive, urging the province to implement two full-time nurse practitioners and recruit a full-time physician within the town. The petition, which was tabled in the legislature last month by Progressive Conservative MLA Jamie Fox, was signed by 1,371 residents.

"A lot of the women are in their 80s, and they just can't hop in a car and go to Cornwall,” said Fran Albrecht, president of the Tryon Women’s Institute.

Members of South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. and local women’s institutes are shown in an exam room at the South Shore Health and Wellness Clinic in Crapaud. From left are Matt MacFarlane and Lisa Gallant of SSHWI, Fran Albrecht of the Tryon Women’s Institute and Heather Dixon of the Augustine Cove Women’s Institute. - Stu Neatby
Members of South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. and local women’s institutes are shown in an exam room at the South Shore Health and Wellness Clinic in Crapaud. From left are Matt MacFarlane and Lisa Gallant of SSHWI, Fran Albrecht of the Tryon Women’s Institute and Heather Dixon of the Augustine Cove Women’s Institute. - Stu Neatby


Care woes in Crapaud

  • Local Dr. Henrik Visser retired in 2017
  • Visser’s patient-load was 2,300
  • Dr. Joey Giordani began practising in Crapaud in 2017
  • Giordani relocated his practice to Cornwall before leaving P.E.I. in 2018
  • Since the spring of 2019, a nurse practitioner has been practising in Crapaud. Her patient load is around 600

The goal of recruiting a full-time physician for the community has also remained elusive.

The South Shore group has offered potential physicians free rent within the clinic space, as well as a free gym and curling club membership, and has been canvassing local physicians and medical residents. 

But Lisa Gallant, secretary of South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. said there has been little support of these recruitment efforts from the Progressive Conservative government. 

Prior to the last election, all local candidates indicated support for a full-time physician in Crapaud. The Liberals went one step further, committing to the recruitment of a physician in a mid-campaign letter to the South Shore group, signed by former premier Wade MacLauchlan. 

But since then, Gallant said a meeting between the South Shore Health and Wellness Inc. and deputy minister of health Mark Spidel has given her the impression the province plans to keep more services in Cornwall.

"We've been told, basically you're not getting a doctor," Gallant said.

The province allocated $1.8 million for a collaborative care space in Queens County in its recent capital budget, but Gallant said the space seems destined to be established in Cornwall.

'ON A SILVER PLATTER'

The Guardian reached out to Health Minister James Aylward but was told he was unavailable. A statement from the Department of Health and Wellness said recruitment efforts are underway for a physician in the Queens West health region.

"Once a qualified, licensable candidate is identified, pending successful interviews and references, they will have the choice to come for a site visit and would be shown all available practice location options in the network, including Crapaud," the statement said.

MacFarlane said the community has already built a clinic in the community with state-of-the art medical equipment. 

"We've handed it to government on a silver platter," MacFarlane said.

"We just don't know where we fit in government's plan."

Twitter.com/stu_neatby


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