Following is a letter directed to Health and Community Services Minister Paul Oram to be included in The Pilot Letters to the Editor:
Dear Mr. Oram,
I am writing you this morning to express my outrage regarding the comments you have made about replacing Dr. Brenda Penney in Lewisporte. CBC news wrote, "Should Penney or any other doctors leave the area, Oram told reporters outside the legislature on Tuesday, he's confident the local health authority would find replacements."
Can you explain to me Mr. Oram why you are so confident they will find replacements? I have lived in Gander for the past eight months and I still do not have a family doctor. My mother has lived here for two years and just had her name added to a list of 1,500 people who also do not have family doctors. I have a history of iron-deficiency so just two weeks ago I had to go sit in emergency as a low-priority case (meaning I was there for hours) just to get a requisition for blood work. I then had to go back a week later and sit in emergency for hours longer just to get the results. Just this morning I spent over an hour on the phone calling all over Central Newfoundland trying to find a doctor or nurse practitioner who could schedule me for a PAP test.
While I am facing challenges such as these how can you say you are confident they will find replacements? I myself am a health professional who is leaving the province next week to take a position in Northern Ontario.
So HOW can you expect ME to be confident about recruiting and retaining doctors and other health professionals in Central Newfoundland, Mr. Oram?
You might think that what you are doing is streamlining services and managing costs but it's time you realized Mr. Oram that healthcare is more than just a business - it's people's lives. Take it from someone who knows, all you are doing is making rural Newfoundlanders delay preventative health procedures until they become so sick they have to be admitted. When you see an increased demand for beds and longer hospital stays and ballooning costs, now you'll know why.
Face the facts Mr. Oram: it is a challenge to recruit doctors and health professionals to Central Newfoundland and you should be doing everything you can to retain the ones you have. This includes Dr. Brenda Penney.
Please do not look in our faces and tell us you are confident the health authority will find replacements because this either makes you ignorant... or a liar.
Ashley Hurley, BSc, RD