Patients concerned about health as 3 P.E.I. doctors wind down practices

·2 min read
Three doctors are leaving their practices on P.E.I. within the next few weeks. (CBC - image credit)
Three doctors are leaving their practices on P.E.I. within the next few weeks. (CBC - image credit)

Jenna Munn said it was almost like "immediate heartbreak" Monday when she suddenly found out she was one of about 5,400 patients on P.E.I. who will be without a family doctor at the end of the month.

Her physician, Dr. Jocelyn Peterson, is one of at least three doctors who are leaving their practices on P.E.I.

"I was shocked," Munn said.

"I've gone through some health issues the past few years. They're not typical cookie-cutter issues I've been dealing with, so to go to a walk-in clinic or to start fresh with a new doctor ... it's frustrating."

Peterson is leaving June 24. Dr. Ray Cooke and Dr. Kris Saunders are also leaving within weeks.

CBC
CBC

Their departures will add to the growing list of people on P.E.I.'s patient registry, which currently sits at about 23,000.

Ashley Tippett could soon be added to that list. She and her family have been booking appointments with Saunders for 15 years.

"We were very lucky to have someone to call. So it was pretty shocking to hear now we won't."

CBC reached out to Saunders and Peterson to ask why they are leaving their practices, but have not heard back.

In a letter posted at his clinic, Cooke said he's moving into a new job with Veterans Affairs Canada next month.

Other services

Health P.E.I. said patients will get letters soon, instructing them on what services they can access that don't require a family doctor, such as walk-in clinics and the virtual health service Maple.

Tippett expects those resources are about to get more overloaded than they already are.

"I've dropped into clinics multiple times before and gone too late. Or getting into online waiting rooms, I've never been able to successfully get in."

Zoom
Zoom

Doctor recruitment and retention continues to be a problem, according to Health P.E.I. It hopes transitioning to medical homes and neighbourhoods, where doctors are just one part of a team of medical professionals that see patients, will help ease the stress.

But that will take time, leaving little comfort to patients like Munn.

"Health concerns generally don't wait for time. So that's really just the biggest concern."

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