After-hours clinic on Major’s Path set to close

·2 min read

What was supposed to be a novel collaboration more than two years ago to offer more flexible hours for patients to see their doctors has fallen apart after Eastern Health decided it could no longer cover overhead costs.

The Major’s Path after-hours clinic in St. John's was staffed on weekends and weeknights by about 50 doctors from all over the Northeast Avalon region. Patients could call to make same-day appointments, as long as their doctor was one of the participants.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) confirmed Friday that the last day of operations will be Dec. 31.

“We regret to inform our patients that the after-hours clinic on Major's Path in St. John's is closing permanently on Dec. 31, 2020,” the association posted on its Facebook page. “Community-based family physicians participating in the after-hours clinic have been advised that funding provided by Eastern Health to cover the costs of administration staff, security staff and operational expenses for the clinic is no longer available.”

In a letter to The Telegram, one patient said she was shocked to hear the news.

“As a patient who has benefitted from this clinic, I feel the decision is a shortsighted and regrettable one,” wrote Ginny Ryan.

While she understood the financial constraints being felt by Eastern Health, she wondered whether the savings were worth it.

“This sounds like penny-wise, pound-foolish logic to me,” she wrote. “The myriad patients who will no longer be able to avail of the clinic as of Jan. 1, 2021 will have to join all the others flooding the emergency departments with health issues for which they cannot get timely appointments.”

Late Friday afternoon, Eastern Health said no other services at Major's Path are affected, and added the following: "From Eastern Health’s perspective, the intent of this clinic was to divert patients from the emergency departments, but we did not see those results. Eastern Health has now shifted its priority to patients in the city who do not currently have a primary-care provider, and has opened the collaborative team clinic in Churchill Square for these patients. This clinic has been seeing a tremendous response and we plan to expand it in the new year."

Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram