Doc­tor re­view con­cerns

Souris res­i­dents wor­ried they might lose fourth doc­tor

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - BY TERESA WRIGHT THE GUARDIAN twright@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/GuardianTeresa

Res­i­dents of Souris are wor­ried their com­mu­nity’s fourth fam­ily doc­tor will be shuf­fled to Char­lot­te­town as a re­sult of a physi­cian com­ple­ment re­view cur­rently un­der­way at Health P.E.I.

The is­sue was raised in the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture Fri­day when Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie pointed to a prom­ise Premier Wade MacLauch­lan made dur­ing the re­cent elec­tion that “a Lib­eral gov­ern­ment will main­tain four fam­ily doc­tors in Souris.”

Souris cur­rently has a com­ple­ment of four fam­ily doc­tors, but one of those po­si­tions has been va­cant for some time.

Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie said Fri­day there are not enough pa­tients in the area in need of a fam­ily doc­tor, so Health P.E.I. is not cur­rently re­cruit­ing for that fourth po­si­tion.

“For us to be re­cruit­ing for a fourth when there’s no­body iden­ti­fied on the (pa­tient) reg­istry… right now we’re not ac­tively re­cruit­ing be­cause there’s other ar­eas of the province in need of physi­cians,” Cur­rie said.

This is why res­i­dents are now con­cerned with a Health P.E.I. re­view of fam­ily doc­tor al­lot­ments in com­mu­ni­ties across P.E.I. with the idea of pos­si­bly re­dis­tribut­ing physi­cians to bet­ter suit pop­u­la­tion de­mands.

Cur­rie says the re­view is nec­es­sary be­cause pop­u­la­tion and de­mo­graphic shifts as well as changes in the way physi­cians man­age their prac­tices have led to dif­fer­ent needs since the 1990s, when the cur­rent com­ple­ments were cre­ated.

The fam­ily doc­tor com­ple­ment for Queens County ar­eas are full, yet there are cur­rently 3,200 Queens County res­i­dents on the pa­tient reg­istry.

Mean­while, Souris’s fourth doc­tor po­si­tion has been va­cant for some time, yet there are cur­rently only 325 pa­tients on the reg­istry look­ing for a fam­ily physi­cian.

Dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod, LaVie ac­cused gov­ern­ment of tar­get­ing this physi­cian re­view solely around Souris.

“This is the gov­ern­ment that promised ev­ery Is­lan­der a doc­tor,” LaVie said.

“You or­dered Health P.E.I. to re­view doc­tor com­ple­ments in Souris. What trig­gered this re­view?”

Cur­rie stressed the re­view is not fo­cused only on Souris, but will be a province-wide re­view of the med­i­cal needs of the pop­u­la­tion and the cur­rent dis­tri­bu­tion of physi­cians. Dis­cus­sions will in­clude doc­tors, the Med­i­cal So­ci­ety and other stake­hold­ers.

In the mean­time, Souris will keep its com­ple­ment of four doc­tors, although the fourth po­si­tion will re­main va­cant un­til there is more de­mand in the area. One of the three physi­cians cur­rently prac­tic­ing in the area is re­tir­ing, and Health P.E.I. is ac­tively re­cruit­ing for this po­si­tion, Cur­rie said.

“We’re not chang­ing the com­ple­ment,” he said.

“We’ll mon­i­tor the reg­istry in the eastern part of the province and if we see an in­tense de­mand and rise in the reg­istry, we’ll cer­tainly re­spond to that, but right now our fo­cus is in fill­ing the third po­si­tion.”

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Colin LaVie, cen­tre, MLA for Souris-Elmira, talks with fel­low MLAs Alan McIsaac, left, and Allen Roach, prior to a re­cent sit­ting of the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture. In the leg­is­la­ture on Fri­day, LaVie raised con­cerns that the Souris area could lose a fourth doc­tor which is part of the com­ple­ment for the area, although not cur­rently filled.

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