WINDS CANCEL THREE CRUISE SHIP VISITS TO P.E.I.
Montague councillor worried over future of hospital emergency room
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.”