New Brunswick town left in the dark about new family doctor

New Brunswick town left in the dark about new family doctorResidents of a small Charlotte County town have been left wondering about the future of their health care after receiving little information about the replacement for the town's sole family doctor.A doctor was supposed to come to St. George, N.B., to take over patients for Dr. Meenakshi Natarajan, who left her job at the end of August.But Jason Gaudet, the town's chief administrative officer, said he's heard through the town's "rumour mill" that the new doctor has chosen to work at the Fundy Health Centre in nearby Blacks Harbour instead.Gaudet said he hasn't gotten much information from Horizon Health Network about what this means for the town and its patients."We get the impression that maybe they don't seem to know as much as we would like them to know," Gaudet said.In a post to her public Facebook page, Dr. Natarajan said she has confirmed with the health authority that the new doctor will still take over her patients — but from the health centre in Blacks Harbour instead of at the medical clinic in St. George as originally planned."I hope this will dispel the many rumours circulating about the fate of my patients," she wrote.She said the doctor's new office phone number will be posted next week.Silence not surprising, CAO saysGaudet said he's "not overly surprised" that the municipality isn't being included in the conversation, and he's glad that the outgoing doctor has found answers for her patients."Certainly, it's good to see that she's getting some information," he said, adding that the town's mayor was also putting some calls out to the health authority.He said the town is viewed, more or less, as a "landlord" of the medical centre, and isn't typically brought in on conversations about health care.Still, he said the uncertainty was difficult for some of the residents before it was confirmed that Dr. Natarajan's patients would be taken care of."There's people that have some very serious illnesses … that can't really afford to have that downtime while everything gets all situated and sorted out," he said. "We can't really afford to cause any confusion in this matter."Gaudet also said that communication with the new doctor himself has been limited.An employee at the Fundy Health Centre confirmed the new doctor would begin work there this month, but said any additional questions must be directed to Horizon Health Network.In response to CBC's media requests, Horizon Health Network said in an email that the new doctor is not a Horizon employee and they can set up practice as they so choose.The authority did not immediately respond to follow up questions about whether it was aware of the change and why the town had not been informed.Recruiting in small towns a challengeBlacks Harbour is only a 15-minute drive from St. George, but Gaudet said this can pose a problem for people who can't drive and were expecting to have a doctor in the town of 1,000 people.He said it can be a challenge to attract doctors to small towns."They have a lot of options where they can go, so a small town may not be really appealing because it doesn't have all the amenities that maybe a larger city would," he said."We may not have all the same programs as Saint John or Fredericton or Moncton would have, so you're kind of battling against that."But he said there are perks to practising at the medical clinic in St. George: the town covers the cost of maintenance and janitorial services, and it comes fully equipped and furnished.If the medical clinic doesn't find a new tenant, it's at risk of closing, he said.Gaudet added that he doesn't begrudge Blacks Harbour or the Fundy Health Centre for getting another doctor."I'm kind of torn on it because I'm glad to see that the Fundy Health Centre's getting work, and we don't want the risk of losing that centre," he said. "But at the same time, I guess just a little bit of heads up would've been fine with us."

Visit Source

Show More
Back to top button