The renovation of a health clinic in Wellington has been delayed by COVID-19, but Health Minister James Aylward said plans are still in place for a doctor to provide one day a week of care in the community.
In response to a question posed Friday in the legislature by Evangeline-Miscouche MLA Sonny Gallant, Aylward confirmed the physician will be serving the community when the restoration of further health services is approved by the province’s Chief Public Health Office.
"Could the minister please provide an update on the renovations that are currently taking place at the Health Centre in Wellington,” Gallant asked.
Aylward replied that the COVID-19 pandemic had delayed some of the work being done at the clinic.
"As soon as we're ready to get back up to speed on this project, I can assure you that the work will be done," Aylward said.
The doctor providing care in the community retired earlier this year. In January, the province had announced the new doctor would begin practising in Wellington by April.
"Can the minister tell the concerned citizens when they will be provided with a doctor that they were promised earlier this year?" Gallant said.
“The physician that will be going to that community to provide health care will be doing a full day versus a half a day which was previously [announced]; in addition, the physician that is going there is bilingual,” Aylward replied.
“As soon as CPHO gives the go ahead that we can open up this service and the renovations are completed, this doctor will be there.”
Aylward faced several questions during Friday’s question period. His Progressive Conservative colleague, Cory Deagle, also asked about the reduced hours at a walk-in mental health clinic in Montague.
“I’m hearing from a lot of people that they’re having difficulty getting in to see someone in Montague and West Prince because the hours are so reduced, and there’s only about four hours (per week) it’s offered,” Deagle said.
Deagle said clinics in Charlottetown offer 28 hours per week, while Summerside clinics are open 16 hours per week. O’Leary’s clinic is open six hours per week.
“Minister, why are the hours so much shorter in Kings and Prince County?” Deagle said.
Aylward said the services are being reintroduced in Montague and O’Leary, but the hours reflected staffing considerations.
“We have to also be mindful of the staff and that they’re comfortable with how the additional measures to meet in person with their clients is taking place. As we move forward, those hours will be expanding, but while we’re in this ease back plan, the other initiatives, such as virtual care and telehealth, are still available,” Aylward said.