By RYAN MELANSON
Monday, Sept. 26, 2011
While the relationship between the Island medical community and Health PEI is still rocky at best, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future, said the president of the Medical Society of Prince Edward Island on Monday.
In a speech to the Charlottetown Rotary Club at the Delta Hotel in Charlottetown, Dr. Rachel Kassner said the relationship between doctors and the new government entity started off with great difficulties.
“In hindsight, it’s been a tough year for the medical profession. Many physicians felt slighted by government handling of internal issues that became public. I’ve heard anger, resentment and disillusionment about the approach and treatment by government and Health PEI.”
Lately, however, Kassner said some of the major issues are being resolved and the relationship is turning a corner.
Kassner is optimistic about a focus group set up by Health PEI to review the controversial Hay Group report, which suggested the number of doctors practising on the Island should be drastically lowered.
As well, Kassner mentioned a promise from Health PEI to review new bylaws putting doctors at risk of being reprimanded for speaking out against government actions.
“I can tell you that it now feels like a collaborative approach, with the opinions and views of the profession being valued.”
It was acknowledged, however, that the current system of health care is financially unsustainable.
“The face of health care in P.E.I. and all of Canada has changed, and will continue to change,” Kassner said.
Costs can be cut while keeping the quality of care, but Kassner said doctors must regain some of their voice and leadership role in the community and communicate regularly with Health PEI to make the correct changes to the system.
“We must strive to regain our credibility, to demonstrate the value of a collaborative approach and again be part of the decision making process… Our criticism be constructive and our focus must be innovative.”
The difficulties of the past year have hurt medical professionals on the island, but the effects can be reversed with a positive approach, Kassner said.
“Some might say our reputation has been unjustifiably tarnished, but doctors will fight to regain their influence. I have not met a single doctor who isn’t vitally interested in patient care and improving the delivery of health care.”
The key is despite a difficult beginning, an open, honest and collaborative relationship will allow the situation to become a win for Island doctors, a win for Health PEI, and a win for Islanders who want higher quality health care in the province, Kassner said.
James MacNutt, the chair of the day’s meeting, said Kassner’s medical background made her a unique guest for the group.
“Family medicine is an honourable profession to be devoted to, and with the voice and leadership Dr. Kassner has within the community, we’re delighted to have her here today.”
Nobody likes to think about the problems with delivering health-care on the Island, but Kassner’s speech forced the audience to consider them.
“She presented some ideas that are challenging, but I think they’re also very important and it’s something we should all be reflecting on,” MacNutt said.
Kasser left the audience with a challenge to put political allegiances aside and question provincial candidates and party leaders on what they plan to do to improve health care on Prince Edward Island.
“The provision of health care services is the single largest expenditure for P.E.I. How our dollars are allocated and how programs are designed are of interest not only to health-care providers, but to each and every one of us.”
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