New doc­tor deal doesn’t change Quinn’s mind


The rat­i­fi­ca­tion of a new con­tract for doc­tors in New­found­land and Labrador will not pre­vent the loss of a psy­chi­a­trist work­ing in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion.

Dr. Joan Quinn was one of 14 doc­tors who re­signed on Nov. 5, and she is the only one who will not be with­draw­ing her res­ig­na­tion with a new deal hav­ing been reached. Since re­sign­ing, she has ac­cepted a job at Cana­dian Forces Base Petawawa.

“ That’s some­thing I’ve wanted to do,” says the doc­tor, who has spent a year prac­tic­ing at the Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal. “ The sit­u­a­tion made that de­ci­sion much eas­ier, so for me, it’s an op­por­tu­nity that won’t come again.”

Doc­tors from across the prov­ince voted over­whelm­ingly to ac­cept the new deal from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment on Dec. 21. The deal gives them salaries equal to those work­ing in other parts of At­lantic Canada.

Dr. Quinn’s Cana­dian Forces job is a two-year con­tract, af­ter which she will re­assess her em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion, and she says that def­i­nitely could en­tail re­turn­ing to the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion re­gion.

While the new deal won’t change her plans, Dr. Quinn says the new deal is great news and long over­due.

“I think our new premier (Kathy Dun­derdale) took the reins in her hand and said, ‘Enough is enough. Let’s set­tle this.’ For New­found­land, I think it’s a pos­i­tive step, and it puts New­found­land in a po­si­tion of re­cruit­ing doc­tors from across the coun­try. It’s a com­pet­i­tive play­ing field now.”

She did not an­tic­i­pate es­tab­lish­ing a new deal for doc­tors would take this long.

“I re­ally do be­lieve if those 14 spe­cial­ists did not step for­ward, this would not be set­tled,” says Dr. Quinn, who was amongst those putting their jobs on the line.

Her de­ci­sion to re­sign leaves the one re­main­ing psy­chi­a­trist for the re­gion in a prickly sit­u­a­tion. That doc­tor will now work alone to serve a re­gion with a pop­u­la­tion of 50,000, while the Cana­dian stan­dard calls for one psy­chi­a­trist per 8,000-10,000 peo­ple.

Dr. Quinn says there is not a wealth of psy­chi­a­trists in­ter­ested in set­ting up ru­ral prac­tices. Higher salaries help, but she says an im­proved health in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing ad­di­tional so­cial work­ers, ad­dic­tions spe­cial­ists, and oth­ers, would ben­e­fit the prov­ince’s abil­ity to at­tract new psy­chi­a­trists.

“ Peo­ple with mental ill­ness are of­ten in­vis­i­ble,” says Dr. Quinn. “ They’re the in­vis­i­ble poor, the in­vis­i­ble work­ing class, and the in­vis­i­ble up­per and mid­dle class. We need to take away that mask and cre­ate ser­vices that al­low peo­ple to step for­ward.”

Dr. Quinn will be leav­ing early in the New Year. As of last week, a re­place­ment had not yet been found.

Dr. Joan Quinn is still set to leave her po­si­tion as a psy­chi­a­trist at Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal fol­low­ing a vote by doc­tors to ac­cept a new deal of­fered by the pro­vin­cial govern­ment. Dr. Quinn was one of 14 spe­cial­ists who re­signed from po­si­tions with East­ern Health in Novem­ber. The other doc­tors have since re­tracted their res­ig­na­tions.

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