Talks underway to bring more physicians to local hospital

The Coaster

Central Health recruitment officers are currently engaged in talks with a couple of physicians about coming to work at the Connaigre Peninsula Health Care Centre in Harbour Breton.

Although nothing has been written in stone, the vice-president of Rural Health with Central Health said they are closer now to bringing more physicians into the area since what was previously reported in the Coaster in July of last year.

“It’s on ongoing process. In some ways, it is a little bit more of an update that I’ve been able to give,” said Heather Brown, vice-president of Rural Health with Central Health.

“We’ve talked about the fact that, yes, we do have a vacancy and we are operating on a locum basis and trying to get people as we can. We are having discussions right now and we are hoping that we will have some new physicians in the area within the next month or so. It’s not for sure but it’s what we’re working on.”

Ms. Brown did say there is currently a shortage in the area. Bringing in more physicians takes time and brining physicians to rural municipalities can take even more time. However, there seems to be a little more light at the end of the tunnel.

“There is a shortage. You have compliment for four physicians and you currently have two,” said Ms. Brown, who added that Dr. Sohi in Hermitage makes up a third physician. “However, there are ongoing recruitment efforts right now and not that there’s anything in stone, but our recruitment officers are having conversations with physicians, so we’re hoping that in the next month or so we may see some improvement in that situation.”

Despite the physician shortage in the area, Ms. Brown said patients wishing to make an appointment have the same waiting period as everyone else in the central region.

“Right now you’re currently looking at a seven to 10-day waiting period, for example, to access a regular appointment with a family physician. In the region, that’s pretty good,” said Ms. Brown. “That’s comparable to any area within the (central) region given the vacancies we are sustaining. Compare that to a person who’s trying to access a family physician in Grand Falls-Windsor, Gander or any of our areas, it’s not really above where we are right now given our current position with physician recruitment. You also have a nurse practitioner who’s available to see clients three days a week in Harbour Breton, as well.”

Central Health services a population base of approximately 100,000 people from Fogo Island in the northeast, to the Connaigre Peninsula in the south and Baie Verte Peninsula in the west.
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