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Department of Health completes review of Bonavista X-ray service changes


The Department of Health and Community Services and Eastern Health have reached a conclusion regarding their review of X-ray services in Bonavista hospital. Afterhours X-rays will still be unavailable unless lab work is also needed, but all lab technologists will now be qualified to perform X-rays as well.

Bonavista Peninsula Community Health Centre.

Late last week, Bonavista MHA Neil King made a Facebook post announcing they have achieved the outcome they have been working towards since the cuts were made this past spring.

The Department of Health and Community Services also released a statement to The Packet confirming King’s claims.

In the provincial budget, hours of availability for X-rays in Bonavista were cut from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. with call-ins overnight, to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. with no call-ins.

Since then, several patients had to be transported to different facilities, like G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville for X-rays.

Protesters have been demonstrating daily near the hospital for a couple months now.

The Department of Health’s statement said, “the (initial) change in the delivery of X-ray services at the Bonavista Peninsula Health Centre was part of Eastern Health’s measures to ensure standardization in the hours of operation for X-ray services among similar facilities in their region.”

After the review, the data collected indicated the new service model is meeting the needs of the population, according to a letter King received from Health minister John Haggie.

“Despite the change in hours of operation, there has been no significant increase in transfers of patients to other facilities at Eastern Health for X-ray services and that when cross-trained lab staff are on call on site, appropriate access to this service is available,” said the letter from Haggie.

However, the laboratory technologists who are cross-trained for X-ray are able to perform after-hours diagnostic imaging if they are called for lab-related work.

Currently, there are four lab technologists in Bonavista and only three are cross-trained.

According to King and the Department of Health, by early next year, all four will be cross-trained, ensuring there is always a lab technologist on call who can also perform X-rays.

But the lab techs can only be called in for lab duties initally and not just to perform an X-ray.

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“This is the outcome that I have been working for over the past three months,” said King in his Facebook post.

King calls cases where blood work would be needed as well “the most serious”.

He says this change covers the need for X-ray services in Bonavista.

“We look at the rationale behind the initial cut, which I was never in favour of and I expressed that to Minster Haggie from the beginning,” King told The Packet.

“I’ve been working ever since that announcement has been made to find a viable solution with the community, such as the Town of Bonavista, chamber of commerce, Eastern Health and the Department of Health and Community Services to come up with an option where we’re able to find savings, cut back on any abuses taking place previously and also deliver services that people require on an afterhours basis.”

King says, until the fourth technologist is trained, he has “full confidence in (the) medical professionals at the hospital and in (the) paramedics who do amazing work. They make the appropriate decision on where a patient who needs this service will be brought on the off week in serious cases.”

Protester Stephen Chard doesn’t agree.

He says he fears physicians may order unnecessary blood work just to ensure they can also get an X-ray.

“To my understanding, the doctor will have to order blood work for a patient to receive an X-ray,” said Chard in a message to The Packet. “This is an unnecessary action to have to take for an X-ray which will result in longer wait times to receive an X-ray because the patient having had to have blood work preformed first, not to mention extra equipment and resources being used unnecessarily.

Chard says he is a concerned parent of a disabled child. His son, Dylan has cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, scoliosis, respiratory issues and many other complex disorders.

He is also the former constituency assistant to former PC MHA Glen Little.

“Bottom line is, (the decision) isn't reversed; (X-ray service) is not back to what we had originally,” he said. “We are still losing a service. Will patients have to be stabbed with a needle unnecessarily just to have an X-ray?”

jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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