Eastern Health is relying on doctors from Ottawa to help deal with a shortage of heart surgeons in Newfoundland and Labrador, as hundreds of patients wait on a growing list for cardiac surgeries and procedures.
The health authority has lost three heart surgeons since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. One moved to a new position in 2020, another retired in October, and a third has tendered their resignation effective at the end of May.
CBC News has confirmed the most recent resignation was made by Dr. Daniel Lodge, Eastern Health's chief of cardiac surgery. The health authority says it's working to fill the position.
Both Lodge and another surgeon who left earlier, Dr. Corey Adams, were graduates of Memorial University's medical school.
Eastern Health says there are now just three surgeons performing cardiac surgeries at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John's.
A total of 148 people are currently awaiting cardiac surgery in the province, according to a statement from Eastern Health. An additional 26 are waiting for a transcatheter aortic valve implantation, while 573 people are on the list for cardiac catheterization.
The wait list grows by about 11 people each week, Eastern Health said.
Eastern Health said it's working with the University of Ottawa's Heart Institute to make up for the lost surgeons. Since December 2020, four surgeons from the university have been performing surgeries in St. John's on a rotating basis.
Eastern Health said an average of nine heart surgeries are performed each week.
The partnership with the University of Ottawa will grow in the future, Eastern Health said, as they continue to develop "robust recruitment strategies."