Mon­tague coun­cil­lor wor­ried over fu­ture of hos­pi­tal emer­gency room

Journal Pioneer - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MAC­DON­ALD news­room@jour­nal­pi­

A Mon­tague coun­cil­lor says he feels Health P.E.I. is giv­ing his re­gion sec­ond-class care and is ex­press­ing con­cern over the fu­ture of the town’s hos­pi­tal. Coun. Jim Bagnall has blasted Health P.E.I. over a one-day emer­gency room clo­sure last month and ques­tioned why town coun­cil was not no­ti­fied. Bagnall said the town has since sent an email to the prov­ince’s health min­is­ter look­ing to meet on the is­sue and fu­ture of the hos­pi­tal’s emer­gency room.

“I’m not tak­ing a chance on it be­ing an iso­lated in­ci­dent… if this con­tin­ues, we’re not going to have a hos­pi­tal here,” Bagnall said fol­low­ing Tues­day’s reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing. “We were upset over (the clo­sure) be­cause it’s a perti­nent is­sue for us and they didn’t have the de­cency to call and tell us what the prob­lem was.”

Dur­ing the town’s last com­mit­tee of coun­cil meet­ing, Bagnall left the coun­cil ta­ble to ad­dress his col­leagues as a cit­i­zen and has since raised other con­cerns re­gard­ing the hos­pi­tal.

With the emer­gency room cur­rently clos­ing at 10 p.m., Bagnall said he has heard there have been dis­cus­sions on fur­ther re­duc­ing hours.

He also said he heard physi­cians fill­ing in emer­gency room shifts at West­ern Hos­pi­tal get paid more than those who fill in at Kings County Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal.

A Health P.E.I. spokes­woman stated it was “only briefly that in­cen­tives were of­fered.

“That is no longer a prac­tice fol­lowed by Health P.E.I. The only dis­crep­ancy in fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives of­fered to those cov­er­ing a shift in a ru­ral emer­gency depart­ment would have been based on mileage and travel time, the flat base would have been the same,” read a state­ment from the depart­ment. In a sep­a­rate state­ment, Kings County Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tor Edna Miller said the clo­sure was due to the sched­uled physi­cian be­ing un­able to work the shift and there is no in­tent to ad­just or re­duce the hours of op­er­a­tion at the hos­pi­tal.

“We are fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing ac­cess to pri­mary care and re­cruit­ing highly skilled health­care pro­fes­sion­als to the com­mu­nity and re­gion,” stated Miller, adding the in­ci­dent was the first time the emer­gency room was closed in more than two years be­cause of a physi­cian be­ing un­able to cover the shift.

The state­ment also de­scribed re­cent meet­ings with Mon­tague coun­cil as pos­i­tive and pro­duc­tive, while Bagnall had a dif­fer­ent view.

“We’ve had two meet­ings with them and one meet­ing was (for them) to find out what we we’re look­ing for and in the other meet­ing they came back and said telemedicine wasn’t an op­tion (for Mon­tague),” said Bagnall, who added he was dis­ap­pointed in area MLA and fi­nance min­is­ter Al­lan Roach for not “going to bat for the com­mu­nity.”

A spokesper­son for Roach said the MLA was un­able to no­tify coun­cil on the clo­sure be­cause he had no prior knowl­edge of it.

“I think the pri­or­ity for the hos­pi­tals are to let pa­tients know first. I don’t think they nor­mally let MLAs know,” said the spokesper­son. Bagnall said the re­sponse was un­ac­cept­able.

“He’s got the purse strings for the prov­ince and he’s not do­ing a damn thing for our area.”

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