Guest column -
It seemed like the Eastern Health Authority was trying; making every effort it could to respond to residents' needs on the Burin Peninsula and make health care delivery accessible and safe.
But then we hear incidents such as the one involving Trevor King of Marystown, and his fourth trip back to the Emergency Room in Burin before his illness was diagnosed as the H1N1 virus, for which he needed to be hospitalized.
Eastern Health's senior management has been rapped on the knuckles over the years for trying to close the Grand Bank and St. Lawrence health centres (late eighties); cutting back on promised service upgrades in Grand Bank and curtailing after hours emergency room service at the St. Lawrence U.S. Memorial Health Centre. These were obviously budget related decisions.
Then there was Burin's part in the X-ray (Imaging) department mis-readings of patients' reports, which had to be redone after a Radiologist was dismissed for incompetence.
Another issue, which surfaced in the mid to late nineties, was the health care board and senior management's treatment of fee for service doctors hired on full time at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.
It meant highly qualified physicians such as Surgeon Dr. Liam Gawley left the centre out of frustration at the authority's handling of his health delivery issues.
And General Practitioner (cancer specialist) Dr. Josh Foley continually expressed his dissatisfaction over board decisions.
These two doctors - Dr. Gawley was a cardiac surgeon in Ontario and Dr. Foley left to assume leadership at a cancer clinic in Alberta - were dedicated to their profession but the Burin Peninsula Health Care/ Peninsulas Health Care Boards and now Eastern Health felt more threatened then pride to have these two sought after medical individuals on their staff.
Now Dr. George Anjilvel - a long time general practitioner in Marystown and former surgeon and medical director at the old Burin Cottage Hospital - suggests in a letter to the editor in today's Southern Gazette one reason Mr. King ended up in a medically induced coma last week in St. John's was the lack of a head doctor to supervise the E.R.
He says six physicians, most with their own private practices, cover the E.R. to maintain service 24/7. They are to be commended for this dedication.
But, Dr. Anjilvel also says a managing doctor is needed in that department to co-ordinate the smooth operation of the E.R. and to provide accountability, which he believes is now lacking. This position had been filled for many years after the health centre opened in 1988.
If Dr. Anjilvel is correct, the onus is again on Eastern Heath to ensure the front line health delivery services here on the peninsula are the best they can be, especially in the main health care facility for this region.
The Southern Gazette