Opposition MLAs raised more questions and concerns around staffing at the Prince County Hospital Friday, while Health PEI confirmed some emergency surgeries may be diverted from Summerside to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown because of a lack of on-call surgeons.
The agency revealed Friday that two doctors confirmed to be leaving the Summerside hospital are both surgeons. One resigned, providing the required two months' notice; the second is working on locum with a term that is set to expire at the end of June.
Health PEI said it's experiencing a lack of on-call surgery coverage at the Prince County hospital on a "day-to-day" basis, and as a result, "emergency surgeries may need to be seen at the QEH."
Meanwhile, the topic of surgery coverage and potential human resource issues at the hospital were once again a central topic of debate in the legislature Friday.
"As I've mentioned before, yes, we have challenges," Health Minister Ernie Hudson said in response to a question from Green Party health critic Trish Altass.
"With that, I have been assured that all surgical services at Prince County Hospital are not being impacted."
Health workers 'worn out': Altass
"I wonder if the minister has spoken with the remaining doctors and staff at Prince County Hospital to see what their thoughts are on the impacts," Altass responded.
"Health care workers are worn out," she continued. "They have no work-life balance. They have trouble finding child care, many of them. They feel that this government doesn't respect or appreciate their work."
The Liberals, meanwhile, who were the first to reveal a week ago that the Prince County Hospital was losing two doctors, suggested another could be leaving.
"We are hearing stories of chaos and confusion at the Prince County Hospital in Summerside," said Robert Henderson, MLA for O'Leary-Inverness.
Third doctor going?
"We have heard from multiple sources recently that emergency surgeries are being moved from our Prince County Hospital to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital because there is inadequate on-call staff," Henderson said, after the minister had said surgeries were not being impacted, and before Health PEI had disclosed the lack of on-call coverage.
"Furthermore, we have heard a third doctor has left and a serious problem continues to get worse."
Health PEI has said it is not aware of a third doctor leaving the hospital.
In response to a question from Henderson as to whether the government plans to centralize some health care services in Charlottetown, Hudson said he would "continue to work with the experts to make sure that not only are services maintained at Prince County Hospital, but that services are expanded at Prince County Hospital."
Health PEI said it is recruiting to fill the upcoming vacancies.
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