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The people of Grand Falls-Windsor and the surrounding area should be mad. Not only should they be mad, but they should be disappointed and fearful to an extent. But so far, most of them haven't been reacting to the fact that Dr. Peter Blackwood, one of only two general surgeons in the community, tendered his resignation due to an unmanageable workload that only seems to be getting worse instead of better. Perhaps the most valuable asset people have is their health. All the money and riches in the world mean very little when you are in constant pain, weak, bed-ridden and unable to enjoy the things you love.

Guest Editorial - The people of Grand Falls-Windsor and the surrounding area should be mad.

Not only should they be mad, but they should be disappointed and fearful to an extent.

But so far, most of them haven't been reacting to the fact that Dr. Peter Blackwood, one of only two general surgeons in the community, tendered his resignation due to an unmanageable workload that only seems to be getting worse instead of better.

Perhaps the most valuable asset people have is their health. All the money and riches in the world mean very little when you are in constant pain, weak, bed-ridden and unable to enjoy the things you love.

It seems Dr. Blackwood's resignation is justified, given the huge amount of support he has received from other physicians in the community.

And it leaves Dr. Mark O'Driscoll as the lone general surgeon operating out of Grand Falls-Windsor.

In a letter to the editor written by Dr. O'Driscoll, it says one of the reasons why Dr. Blackwood decided to step down was because he did not want to get to the point where he was so overworked and overtired that he was compromising the safety of his patients, who trust him with their lives oftentimes.

With Dr. O'Driscoll now the only general surgeon in Grand Falls-Windsor, the question must be posed: How long before he starts to feel the same way? It's certain that with a list of 2,500 patients waiting for some sort of assessment by a surgeon, along with the fact that he still has obligations to his current patients coupled with his emergency on call duties, he wouldn't be unjustified in feeling overburdened.

This town or region could not afford to lose Dr. Blackwood and it certainly, unequivocally, cannot afford to lose Dr. O'Driscoll. Now that it's down to one surgeon, steps need to be taken immediately to make sure that Dr. O'Driscoll is retained and that several other general surgeons are brought on board.

But when or how is this going to happen? Central Health had has two years from the time two other surgeons left their posts to recruit new surgeons, but no headway was made. The health authority now finds itself in a huge pickle. Perhaps the general public is naïve as to how long it takes health authorities to recruit physicians, but two years seems like ample time.

And outside of a bare-bones press release issued last week, Central Health has not been commenting to the media about this issue that is affecting the lives of many people in the region. No questions are being answered as to the current recruitment and retention strategy, how the health authority plans to overhaul that strategy in order to improve health care services for tens of thousands of people, and what the short term plan is to address this shortage.

The only thing the press release made mention of was a meeting with the Health Minister Ross Wiseman on July 3.

Now is the time for people in the Grand Falls-Windsor area to stand up and be counted. Health care should not be compromised, and that is exactly what is happening right now, through no fault of the physicians. Stage a protest, write letters to your local newspapers, write to your MHA or the minister of health, get angry, be vocal, let the health authority know that this is unacceptable.

But don't just sit back and let the chips fall where they may.

After all, it's your health. If you don't speak up about it, who will?

JENNIFER PELLEY, Advertiser

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