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Central Health hopes to re-open obstetrics in Gander ‘sometime in September’

Following a meeting with the physician recruitment and retention working group, Gander town council made a proposal to improve the state of the doctor’s lounge at the James Paton Memorial Hospital.
Following a meeting with the physician recruitment and retention working group, Gander town council made a proposal to improve the state of the doctor’s lounge at the James Paton Memorial Hospital.

GANDER, NL — Central Health was able to provide further detail on today’s press release and the momentous recruitment of 11 new physician specialists in central Newfoundland.

Among the seven new doctors recruited for the James Paton Memorial Hospital, Gander has hired two obstetricians and two pediatricians.

Dr. Jeff Cole, the vice-president of medical services for Central Health, was cautiously optimistic concerning a date for the resumption of obstetrics in Gander.

“We’re hoping sometime in September,” said Cole, citing that he would be consulting the department heads and new hires before giving a firm date.

He stressed Central Health wants to give physicians time to settle in.

“Our commitment at this point is to take the lead from our new recruits when they feel they’re ready to get things up and running,” said Cole. “We don’t want to box them into a start date they feel they can’t meet.”

Having said that, Cole expects services to be ready as soon as possible.

“We want the ladies in the area to have access to that service,” he said.

Furthermore, Cole shared that even with these new hires, the region does have the need for more physicians but that this was a first step.

“We thought it was a good opportunity to let people know that we had made some significant new hires and that these new people are going to impact the quality of care in the region,” he said.

 

No obstetrics since April…

When Central Health originally suspended obstetrics services in Gander, the quoted timeframe was four to six weeks. This announcement was made in April and diverted all expecting mothers to the hospital in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Cole said, after reviewing the situation during those first weeks, Central Health had to set up a two-phase plan.

“The first phase was to say it’s going to take four to six weeks to see what were dealing with,” said Cole. “It wasn’t a commitment to having obstetrics back (in Gander), it was to have an idea of what we were dealing with.”

 

Challenges

Now that the doctors have been hired, the next step is retention.

Cole admitted the demands of doctors have changed over the years, but said Central Health has been upfront with their needs.

“The younger physician group has lots of different needs and wants compared to the people that were here when I came in 25 years ago,” he said.

Overall, Cole said Central Health and municipalities will be working together to try and meet the needs of new doctors and their families.

“Everybody involved has been very supportive.”

 

Other comments

Health Minister John Haggie provided an emailed statement concerning the recruitment announcement for the region.

“This means a great deal to our region—this immediately fills a gap and re-establishes obstetrical services at the James Paton Memorial Regional Health Centre,” Haggie stated. “It will also help increase access to specialized services. We look forward to welcoming them all to the central region.”

Gander’s mayor, Claude Elliott, was also excited by the announcement and the impact it would have on the town.

“It’s a great announcement that we’re getting seven doctors. I know we’re still short in some areas down there, but I think this is a step in the right direction,” he said.

The mayor said, in his experience, the town could help with retention by being welcoming and working with Central Health.

“Hopefully, that between us all, we welcome them to the community,” he said.

Concerning updates about obstetric services, Gaïtane Villeneuve, director of communications for Central Health, said, as the date gets closer, Central Health would communicate with the public.

 

Twitter: @joshrjhealey

josh.healey@ganderbeacon.ca

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