A top health official calls the growing backlog of Islanders seeking eye surgery “concerning’’.
The wait for cataract surgery in the province has increased to 316 days, says Dr. Andre Celliers, executive director of medical affairs for Health P.E.I.
The challenge of providing eye surgery in a timely manner has been exasperated by the medical leave of an ophthalmologist in May with the length of his leave uncertain.
Celliers says the doctor was very productive both in his medical practice and in the operating room.
Health P.E.I. is currently negotiating with an ophthalmologist to fill a locum position to take over both the medical and surgical practice of the doctor on medical leave.
Celliers says work is underway to determine how many ophthalmologists are needed in the province.
Currently three are performing eye surgery on P.E.I. That clearly is not enough.
Health P.E.I. has been forced to approve sending 150 patients who had been booked for surgery in the province off Island for their eye surgery – and that number is expected to grow, adds Celliers.
“It is concerning,’’ he says.
“We are certainly aware that there are a number of people that have not been able to get in (for eye surgery).’’
Health P.E.I. will not be covering the travel expenses of Islanders getting their eye surgery done out-of-province, but people can apply to provincial travel support programs for assistance.
Celliers says the province is only interested in hiring ophthalmologists willing to perform eye surgery. Attracting such doctors, he concedes, is a challenge.
“We are competing in a very competitive market,’’ he says.
Celliers says “some’’ of the province’s ophthalmologists are approaching retirement age but none have voiced an intention of retiring in the immediate future.