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.