Carbonear council wants answers
Criticizes Eastern Health for inability to fill vacant OBS/GYN positions in Carbonear
The Carbonear town council will be seeking a meeting with officials from Eastern Health to discuss what leaders in the town described last week as “second class treatment” by the St. John’s based health authority.
Deputy Mayor Ches Ash said during a Dec. 20 council meeting he was “very perturbed” that Eastern Health has been unsuccessful in its efforts to recruit obstetricians/gynecologists (OBS/GYN) to fill the two vacant positions at the Carbonear General Hospital.
Ash questioned whether services at the hospital were being deliberately downgraded and the facility was being “left to die a slow death.”
Eastern Health acknowledged in a news release earlier in the day that recruitment efforts had come up empty.
But Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO of Eastern Health, said the health authority is “committed” to providing obstetrical/gynecological services at the Carbonear General Hospital over the long term.
“While we continue to be challenged to offer the services currently, I am confident that we will in the future have a full service available,” Kaminski stated.
One specialist resigned in January, and a second, Dr. Andy Narine, was left in mid-october.
Women in the region who require either obstetrical or gynecological services are now referred to one of the 12 obstetricians/gynecologists in St. John’s, the news release stated.
Dr. Oscar Howell, vice-president of medical services with Eastern Health, noted that a solution to the issue may not be available for up to two more years.
“We have done a lot of work to recruit physicians to Carbonear and we are confident that we have two physicians who will set up practice there once they finish their training in 2013,” Howell said.
“However, despite all of our best efforts to date we have not been successful in recruiting physicians to provide OBS/GYN service to the women of the area in the short term.”
Town leaders expressed concern that some women in the region are being forced to travel up to two hours to receive care.
Carbonear Mayor Sam Slade said he has a personal interest in the issue, since his daughter is due to have a baby in January.
He said having to wait for up to two years for a solution to the doctor shortage is unacceptable, and described the recruitment efforts as a “failure.”
Coun. Ed Goff said part of the problem lies in the fact that recruiters are based in St. John’s, and “there is not enough effort on our needs.”
Meanwhile, Eastern Health reminds expectant mothers that in the event of an emergency, they should go to the closest health care facility. Patients or clients that require additional information, or have patient-related concerns, can call one of the following numbers: 945-5111, 945-5165 or 945-5514.
“Our recruitment efforts will continue to secure physicians to provide OBS/GYN services to fill the gap between now and 2013,” added Kaminski.
“We have had many discussions with physicians over the past several months and we are hopeful we will identify physicians who are interested in setting up practice in Carbonear. Our ultimate objective is to provide a stable OBS/GYN service to the women of the Carbonear area.”
Carbonear Mayor Sam Slade said last week it is “unacceptable” that Eastern Health has been unable to recruit specialists for the Carbonear General Hospital.