Health care system lacking vision, says physician
New Harbour doctor weighs in on specialist shortage at Carbonear hospital
A family physicians whose patients have been affected by the loss of obstetrics/gynecology services at the Carbonear General Hospital says it’s going to take a lot more than one specialist in Carbonear to entice him to refer his patients back to that hospital again.
Dr. Paul Bonisteel has be e n ref e r r i n g h i s patients to the capital city since last year, when both specialists who had been providing obstetrics/gynecology in Carbonear quit, leaving the hospi- tal without those specialty services. The general practitioner, who operates his family practice out of New Harbour, Trinity Bay, was responding to the latest word from Eastern Health that a specialist has been recr u i ted, a n d is expected to start work at the Carbonear hospital in early April.
In a wide- ranging interview with The Compass on Feb. 8, Dr. Bonisteel a lso talked about recruitment of specialists general ly and the somet imes t a rdy approach to filling vacancies in the health care system.
Dr. Paul Bonisteel is a family physician practicing in New Harbour, Trinity Bay.
“Time and time again, we have seen when they fill one (specialist) position, the effort to fill the second seems to slack off. And that’s not just in obstetrics, that’s across a slate of different specialties, and not just in Carbonear, but in many of the (health care) institutions across the province,” Dr. Bonisteel suggested.
He said he thinks, “a lot of that comes from not being visionary about the … services you’re providing. If you’re going to be purely custodial and have no vision, then the status quo is going to prevail. And if the status quo isn’t good enough, then you’re not going anywhere because nobody’s got a plan to think outside the box.”
If it’s only going to be one obstetrician, he sees that as “a problem, because one obstetrician/ gynecologist is going to have to handle all the calls.
“A concern I would have, and what we’ve seen seemingly happen repeatedly, is once we get one person established, that specialist could be there for a very long time waiting for someone else to come along and share the workload.”
Hoping that won’t be the case, Eastern Health is continuing its efforts to recruit specialists to fill both paid positions in Carbonear.
Having only one specialist in place to carry the full workload is a “recipe for burnout,” Dr. Bonisteel suggested, adding even two is “pretty brutal. Three is tolerable. And if you have a really good working relationship with your colleagues, it becomes extremely tolerable.”