Tignish residents try to stay positive as doctor vacancy approaches one year
Residents of Tignish, P.E.I., are holding out hope that a physician will eventually set up practice in the area.
The community's only physician, Dr. Peter Entwistle, closed his practice last April, and Health P.E.I. has been unable to recruit a replacement.
Karen Gallant, president of Tignish Seniors Homecare Co-op, says it's an ongoing concern in a community that includes about 50 residents who live in the seniors' home.
"My own mom is in there, so myself and my family are concerned about that because it also impacts the continuity of care, and a lot more of the burden falls on the family to make sure that … their loved one is getting the proper care."
Health P.E.I. said it's in the process of sending a letter to all patients with the Tignish Health Centre instructing them to place their names on the P.E.I. patient registry. There are almost 30,000 Island residents on the list.
Health P.E.I. said it is continuing recruitment efforts for a full-time physician as well as two full-time permanent nurse practitioners.
Expansion to long-term care underway
Residents have been advised to sign up to Maple, an online service that allows patients to see a doctor or nurse virtually. But Gallant said it's not practical for many elderly people who don't feel comfortable with the technology.
The alternative is going to the hospital and sometimes waiting hours to see a doctor.
I know there's problems getting doctors in a lot of different places, not just here, but ... we really, really need a doctor to provide proper health care for the people here. — Karen Gallant
"There are all kinds of accessibility problems and there's the senior population and they just can't pick up easily and go to an emergency room," Gallant said. "A lot of times that might require an ambulance to do that and, you know, just all kinds of different things to think about."
The co-op is in the process of expanding and becoming a long-term care home, which will require RNs and LPNs. They hope to raise $600,000 and have 12 long-term care beds added by 2024.
The change to a long-term care home will allow patients to stay closer to home.
'Prefer to stay in our community'
"When they require a higher level of care they have to go to a manor, which is long-term care, which we do not have any in the Tignish area, so they would have to go to Alberton or O'Leary or somewhere else to receive that care," Gallant said.
"And we, the people of community and the residents themselves, would much prefer to stay in our community when they need a higher level of care."
Gallant said the community is trying to remain optimistic.
"I know there's problems getting doctors in a lot of different places, not just here, but we have … quite a population base for our community, our town, and we really, really need a doctor to provide proper health care for the people here."