Campobello – Island residents are concerned they will be losing nurse practitioner Yvonne Bartlett next month but Horizon Health says the remaining resources at the health centre will support their needs.
Bartlett, who has between 250 and 300 patients on the island, will be working in the wellness centre being set up at Charlotte County Hospital.
Mayor Stephen Smart said he is concerned, as both mayor and a citizen, because this is a reduction in service plus there has been no official announcement of Bartlett leaving.
He said there has been a lot of concern from the province about residents of Campobello seeking medical help in the U.S. and islanders have done what they can to abide by the rules but he thinks this move will increase the number of people going across the border.
Currently, Dr. Philip Kay works on the island two days a week, Bartlett is there three days a week and a second nurse practitioner visits two days a week.
Horizon Health’s director of EMP and primary health care for the Saint John area, Dawn Marie Buck, said Monday, “The Campobello Health Centre will continue to have a visiting physician two days per week, a nurse practitioner three days per week and registered nurses available five days per week.
“These resources will sufficiently support the residents on Campobello. We will continue to monitor the capacity, and are able to shift resources as required.”
Smith said he understands the island will be having a weekly well women’s clinic as well as a monthly clinic for joint injections for those with arthritis.
“These programs are good but they don’t replace the nurse practitioner hours. I don’t see this as being equal. They are going to have this wonderful clinic in St. Stephen but there are people who cannot travel off-island and rely on friends and neighbours to get them to the doctor.
“It is just more pressure here. My biggest issue, besides the reduction in service, is this is being done covertly, secretly and quickly.
“By Nov. 10 it will be done and over and there has been no public consultation and no public information. Yvonne is telling her patients you will have to make other arrangements. If Horizon is operating in our best interests and taking care of our services, they are keeping this quiet.”
Smart pointed out that in 2008 Horizon did a health and wellness survey on the island which led directly to the formation of the rural community of Campobello.
“If anyone knows what we need, it should be Horizon. They identified our weaknesses and said the only way to see any improvements was to incorporate.
“Sixty per cent voted in favour of that and now they are walking way. They are not being honest about what is happening. I know it is only 900 residents but adding one day a week to the other nurse practitioner does not catch the case load.”
At present, he said, the average wait for an appointment to see a doctor or nurse practitioner is three weeks and, if you have a sick child, you are not going to drive to St. Stephen but will seek medical help in the U.S.
“My personal experience was I tried to get in here and was told I had to wait six weeks and I called Lubec (medical centre) and got in next day.”
If people have to drive to St. Stephen for doctor’s appointments, Smith said he is afraid there will be those who will just stop going to the doctor but they are fortunate to have a pharmacy on the island.
“They don’t want us going to the U.S. and we are trying to play ball with the province and do things the way they want us to but this is unacceptable.”