A Grand Falls-Windsor family doctor says closing her family practice after 19 years was a difficult but necessary decision for her to focus on bigger health issues in the province.
Dr. Lynette Powell, past president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, works at the Central Newfoundland Health Center – the Organ Patient Clinic – which she says has “huge shortcomings” right now.
“I just decided to close [my practice] because right now it’s not sustainable to be as many places as me. I’m pulled in a bunch of directions,” Powell told CBC News on Monday. “You can’t do multiple jobs justice.”
Powell said the province’s health care system has steadily deteriorated over the past six to eight months, making it difficult for people working on the front lines. She will continue to work in the central Newfoundland health care center and hopes the situation improves enough for her to reopen her practice.
“We’re really seeing really sick people, people who need more care than they can access,” Powell said.
“We have some of the lowest Pap screening rates right now in the center because people have no provider to go to. Cancer screening has taken a back seat. We’re just turning off the fires now and taking care of the sickest. It’s really hard.
Earlier this month, mayors from rural communities on the north and south coasts of Newfoundland raised concerns about the loss of community doctors. On the south coast, in the Coast of Bays region, thousands of residents are losing their only doctor at the end of the month, leaving emergency health care services about 200 kilometers away in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Last week, Health Minister John Haggie said family medicine was becoming a tougher discipline to recruit.
“The specialties seem more interesting. We work with Memorial [University] to see if we can fix it,” Haggie said.
Haggie said the government has stepped up its efforts to recruit new doctors, highlighting the 36 recruited into Central Health over the past two years – but that is offset by the loss of 45 doctors.
“That turnover has always been a situation to deal with in rural areas,” he said.
“In terms of short-term mitigation, we obviously recognize the challenge. We have implemented virtual emergencies. This has been mainly in Central [Health] but it worked in other regions and in the East [Health] as well.”
Doctors want to help, says Powell
PC Health Review Paul Having dinner says the problems fall away at feet of the provincial government.
“What we see is a crisis in health care and a crisis in leadership. The Minister of Health and this Liberal government have had seven years to improve the health care system, but now it is in tatters,” said Dinn said in a press release. Tuesday.
Haggie pointed to $14 million earmarked in this year’s budget to expand primary care.
“We have a strategy. We started a few years ago recognizing that this was going to be a growing problem,” he said.
Powell says frontline workers see the big picture of the seriousness of the situation, and she tweeted about the problems she witnesses firsthand in central Newfoundland.
“I think a lot of us are on the same page right now and a lot of us are feeling the same pressures,” she said. “I think a lot of doctors have the same mindset as me: they want to help [but] they don’t know where the best place to help is.”
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