More doctors disgruntled with lab, X-ray cuts

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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A family physician who, also works as an emergency room doctor at the Janeway children's hospital in St. John's, says the provincial government will be doing a "huge disservice" to the people of the province and their doctors if it takes away laboratory and X-ray services in Flower's Cove and Lewisporte.

Dr. Lydia Hatcher was reacting Thursday to an announcement Monday by Health Minister Paul Oram on what he describes as a streamlining of health-care services.

A family physician who, also works as an emergency room doctor at the Janeway children's hospital in St. John's, says the provincial government will be doing a "huge disservice" to the people of the province and their doctors if it takes away laboratory and X-ray services in Flower's Cove and Lewisporte.

Dr. Lydia Hatcher was reacting Thursday to an announcement Monday by Health Minister Paul Oram on what he describes as a streamlining of health-care services.

While blood collection services will continue in these towns, residents in the Flower's Cove area will have to travel to St. Anthony for other lab work and X-rays and residents in the Lewisporte area will have to access services in either Gander or Grand Falls-Windsor.

The health minister said the effective date of these changes will be announced later in the fall.

Hatcher, who worked as a rural physician for 10 years in Whitbourne before establishing a family practice in Mount Pearl, said she's very familiar with patients coming in to be seen in routine and emergency cases where an X-ray is ordered and interpreted by the family doctor, who then treats the patient.

She said it could be a patient with an injury. "You might X-ray them, see a broken bone, straighten it up, reduce it and put them in a cast, X-ray them again and send them home," she said.

"Another example would be pneumonia," Hatcher said. "You do the X-ray basically to confirm what you thought and then you send it to the specialist. Those X-rays still go to a specialist to be looked at, but really it's just confirming not only what you see, but what you've already done. You've already treated the patient long before the X-rays get to the specialist."

Hatcher said if rural clinics don't have this capability, it completely changes the type of service doctors there can offer. "You really can't do any emergency work at all," she said. "To take away the service is a huge change in the kind of practice you can do and I think it's very sad that it has come to that."

She said delays for patients who have to travel a long distance outside their communities is also a concern. Hatcher said she's often seen offshore workers who've been injured offshore and they've "suffered greatly" because of the number of hours it takes to get them to a doctor.

"What this is going to do is certainly kill rural Newfoundland interest in doctors going and practising there. If all you're going to be doing is seeing people and referring them all off, what's the point?" Hatcher asked.

Dr. Ed Mercer, a Corner Brook radiologist who's president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Radiologists and Nuclear Medicine Physicians, is also concerned and confused about government's decision.

He said Thursday the goal of an electronic picture archiving and communications (PAC) system, which the province, health boards and health professionals spent a lot of time and effort implementing in recent years, was to provide better radiology services throughout the province.

The system allows X-rays, administered by a radiology technologist, to be viewed and analyzed on a computer screen by a radiologist anywhere.

Holding in his hand, a 320-page Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI) document on evaluating the benefits of a PAC system for the province, Mercer said the mantra or slogan was the Five-As - any patient, any image, any report, anywhere and any time.

"This whole decision process now flies in the face of the goals of the PAC system," he said.

Mercer is also concerned about the health minister's comments Monday that the province is reviewing all the lab and X-ray services throughout the province because he can't find anyone in his field of work aware of any such review.

He said he's also confused as to why the health minister referenced the Cameron Inquiry on hormone receptor testing in his announcement Monday be-cause the quality of radiology was never questioned during the inquiry, which dealt with hormone receptor testing to determine treatment after women were diagnosed with breast cancer.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Radiologists, Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information

Geographic location: Lewisporte, St. John's, St. Anthony Gander Whitbourne Mount Pearl Newfoundland Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Bob
    July 02, 2010 - 13:35

    Great job by King Danny isnt it Bones. Tell us now Bones why you think this is such a brilliant move by the little tyrant.

  • Wayne
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Seems Mr. Oram is mixing his stories up. The Cameron Inquiry and X-Rays? Consultations that the interested parties have never heard about? You don't need briefing notes to do your job? You have run businesses for years without notes. Tell me Mr Oram. are any of your businesses the size of the gov't department your running now with the amount of cash you are responsible for and with the health and lives of real people at stake? No, I didn't think so. You are a rookie that is out of his league Mr. Oram. Better step down and let someone who knows what they are doing take over before you are responsible for a real disaster.

  • Another kick
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Can 'anyone' explain how these 'cuts' improve health care???? How about it Paullie!!?? Any suggestions?? It's been known in the medical profession that leeches and maggots have a beneficial affect on 'some' maladies, but in our government leeches and maggots can only be seen as a contributing factor to illness.....

  • Bones II
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Pseudo Bones II: Just can't wait for a legitimate comment from me, can ya, lol. Your feeble attempt at making it look like I posted that tripe is nothing short of hilarious. You also forgot your LOL.

    Frank: My first post of the day is this one. I'm also a way better fake than you think.....nearly every hater here actually thinks I work for Williams. Also nothing short of hilarious.

    Since a few haters have already taken it upon themselves to tell me what I already think of this, I feel a strange sort of obligation to correct the gross assumptions and condescending tones that are becoming quite rampant here, on this forum. For what it's worth, I, and a great many others are paying attention to this with great interest. A very bold move on Oram's part that had better show positive results in both health care, and the areas the service will relocate to. Like I said yesterday, it sucks that Lewisporte is on the receiving end of this, but fixing health care MUST START SOMEWHERE. No matter where this monumental, historical, long-term task begins.....somebody is going to have a problem with it. Streamlining ANYTHING usually means winners and losers in the short term, it also means many winners over the long term. No haters ever see past the current administration, or ever consider facts related to former administrative members.

  • Worried
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    There is a shortage of lab workers in rural Newfoundland... ask anyone in the labs outside the overpass how easy it was to get their annual leave this year. Ask any of them how short-handed they were working this summer because their were no replacement workers. AND with the vast majority of the lab workers in Newfoundland nearing retirement age and CONA only able to graduate 15-20 new grads each year ( many of whom are unwilling to leave St. J's OR end up being attracted to higher paying jobs and huge bonuses in other provinces) the problem is growing each year.

    Oram knows this (or at least he SHOULD know it if he was LISTENING during his takeover briefings). So how do we address this problem? Do we try and increase the capacity of CONA's graduating class each year? Nope. Do we offer lab workers more money like we did the nurses?NOPE Do we offer bonuses to lab workers who stay and work in rural areas? No way.
    WE CUT SERVICES!!! And we all know the sick and old people's votes might not even be there when we want to get re-elected. Any luck at all they will be all dead.

  • Bones ll
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    Right on there Graham Danny is a dictator I couldnt agree more.

  • Dr Wayne Button
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    I apoligise for what I am about to say before I even say it. Now that thats out of the way here goes. Mr Bones sir what kind of a babbling narrow minded foll are you? If Danny Williams brought back the gas chamber you sir would most likely support him on that as well. I support our Premier on many of the great things he as done and yes he has done many. This however is not one of them. For you to get on here and show the dis respect you so willingly show for the people who will be affected by this is repulsive and sickening. Peoples live have once again be placed at risk because of this Minister of Health and this Danny Williams lead governmenmt, If you refuse to admit or see that Bones sir you are in my opinion in need of a different kind of professional help than I could ever possibly give you. I am not trained in the exploration of strange and perculiar happenings in the brain. Backing Danny Williams is one thing like I said I have back him on many things but backing him on this is repulsive. Anyone now still wondering why recruitment and retention of doctors and nurses is such a problem in this province. Theres your proof Mr bones. Instead of calling any people who dare to question his actions haters why not look for an answer to this question yourself Mr Bones. Ask our Premier and our Health Minister what prompted them to make this decision. Ask them if they will take full responsability for anything that happens as a result of their changes to the system. i admire your devotion to the man Mr Bones but for the love of God at least be willing to listen to others who may just have an idea or two of their own even if they fail to worship him like you do.

  • Gerry
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    You should check Mr. Orams briefing notes, Im sure the radiology review is referenced there !!

  • Sharon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Please Bone please get over your obcession with Danny Williams. Again he has put peoples lives at risk and you think thats ok. Sad commentary if that truly is your attitude. Please stop calling me and others haters Bones. That comment is now about as lame as you are. Ok maybe not that lame.

  • BM
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    IF THE GOVERNMENT MAKES ANY MORE CUTS TO THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, ITS JUST AS WELL TO MOVE THE HOSPITALS TO ANOTHER PROVINCE. HOW DO THE DR. OF LEWISPORT BE EXPECTED TO WORK WITHOUT XRAY AND LAB FACILITIES. COME ON, FOR GOD SAKE,
    WHAT!!!!!! THEY NEED THE MONEY FOR THEMSELVES, TO PUT IN THEIR OWN POCKET. LIKE ED ,,,,,,,

  • Charlie Oliver
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Danny needs your dedication and devotion more than ever now Bones. Lets see you defend this action by The Terminator (Williams) and The Undertaker (Oram). By the way any luck with that job in Premier dannys office yet Bones? Good luck with that. You have the backing of all the haters we think you deserve to be there.

  • Graham
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Dr. Ed Mercer seems to be one confused man. He should see a specialist about that. Who does he think he is trying to tell gov what to do ? Another dictator.

  • Lorraine
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Great news report... encouraging to see health professionals stating facts and questioning their government on the reasoning behind such a move. It doesn't make any difference with the PAC system where your x-ray is taken, a specialist in Gander or St. John's can look at the x-ray as well as family doctors. Journalists keep digging.. I'm sure you'll find that this decision was made by someone without any medical or financial background, it doesn't make medical or financial sense!

  • tim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Mr Oram, a person who do not read is no better off than one who can't read. We realize you are unable to read so you don't keep notes on the peoples work you do. I think you should go to school, you would learn a lot of stuff.
    This is one horrible command from any premier, especially one who says he has good business sence. I think our premier is out to lunch when he command his subordinate Paul Oram do cut services at Flowers Cove and Lewisport.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Nice touch Bones. Gone in the witness protection program are ya. Pretend to be Graham so you dont have to answer any of the questions he and others want you to answer on here. You gutless wonder. Even when you pretend to be someone else Bones you sound as lame as you really are. Your not even a good fake. This Government and this Premier is corrupt Bones. DEAL WITH IT.

  • Bob
    July 01, 2010 - 20:25

    Great job by King Danny isnt it Bones. Tell us now Bones why you think this is such a brilliant move by the little tyrant.

  • Wayne
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Seems Mr. Oram is mixing his stories up. The Cameron Inquiry and X-Rays? Consultations that the interested parties have never heard about? You don't need briefing notes to do your job? You have run businesses for years without notes. Tell me Mr Oram. are any of your businesses the size of the gov't department your running now with the amount of cash you are responsible for and with the health and lives of real people at stake? No, I didn't think so. You are a rookie that is out of his league Mr. Oram. Better step down and let someone who knows what they are doing take over before you are responsible for a real disaster.

  • Another kick
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Can 'anyone' explain how these 'cuts' improve health care???? How about it Paullie!!?? Any suggestions?? It's been known in the medical profession that leeches and maggots have a beneficial affect on 'some' maladies, but in our government leeches and maggots can only be seen as a contributing factor to illness.....

  • Bones II
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Pseudo Bones II: Just can't wait for a legitimate comment from me, can ya, lol. Your feeble attempt at making it look like I posted that tripe is nothing short of hilarious. You also forgot your LOL.

    Frank: My first post of the day is this one. I'm also a way better fake than you think.....nearly every hater here actually thinks I work for Williams. Also nothing short of hilarious.

    Since a few haters have already taken it upon themselves to tell me what I already think of this, I feel a strange sort of obligation to correct the gross assumptions and condescending tones that are becoming quite rampant here, on this forum. For what it's worth, I, and a great many others are paying attention to this with great interest. A very bold move on Oram's part that had better show positive results in both health care, and the areas the service will relocate to. Like I said yesterday, it sucks that Lewisporte is on the receiving end of this, but fixing health care MUST START SOMEWHERE. No matter where this monumental, historical, long-term task begins.....somebody is going to have a problem with it. Streamlining ANYTHING usually means winners and losers in the short term, it also means many winners over the long term. No haters ever see past the current administration, or ever consider facts related to former administrative members.

  • Worried
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    There is a shortage of lab workers in rural Newfoundland... ask anyone in the labs outside the overpass how easy it was to get their annual leave this year. Ask any of them how short-handed they were working this summer because their were no replacement workers. AND with the vast majority of the lab workers in Newfoundland nearing retirement age and CONA only able to graduate 15-20 new grads each year ( many of whom are unwilling to leave St. J's OR end up being attracted to higher paying jobs and huge bonuses in other provinces) the problem is growing each year.

    Oram knows this (or at least he SHOULD know it if he was LISTENING during his takeover briefings). So how do we address this problem? Do we try and increase the capacity of CONA's graduating class each year? Nope. Do we offer lab workers more money like we did the nurses?NOPE Do we offer bonuses to lab workers who stay and work in rural areas? No way.
    WE CUT SERVICES!!! And we all know the sick and old people's votes might not even be there when we want to get re-elected. Any luck at all they will be all dead.

  • Bones ll
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    Right on there Graham Danny is a dictator I couldnt agree more.

  • Dr Wayne Button
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    I apoligise for what I am about to say before I even say it. Now that thats out of the way here goes. Mr Bones sir what kind of a babbling narrow minded foll are you? If Danny Williams brought back the gas chamber you sir would most likely support him on that as well. I support our Premier on many of the great things he as done and yes he has done many. This however is not one of them. For you to get on here and show the dis respect you so willingly show for the people who will be affected by this is repulsive and sickening. Peoples live have once again be placed at risk because of this Minister of Health and this Danny Williams lead governmenmt, If you refuse to admit or see that Bones sir you are in my opinion in need of a different kind of professional help than I could ever possibly give you. I am not trained in the exploration of strange and perculiar happenings in the brain. Backing Danny Williams is one thing like I said I have back him on many things but backing him on this is repulsive. Anyone now still wondering why recruitment and retention of doctors and nurses is such a problem in this province. Theres your proof Mr bones. Instead of calling any people who dare to question his actions haters why not look for an answer to this question yourself Mr Bones. Ask our Premier and our Health Minister what prompted them to make this decision. Ask them if they will take full responsability for anything that happens as a result of their changes to the system. i admire your devotion to the man Mr Bones but for the love of God at least be willing to listen to others who may just have an idea or two of their own even if they fail to worship him like you do.

  • Gerry
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    You should check Mr. Orams briefing notes, Im sure the radiology review is referenced there !!

  • Sharon
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    Please Bone please get over your obcession with Danny Williams. Again he has put peoples lives at risk and you think thats ok. Sad commentary if that truly is your attitude. Please stop calling me and others haters Bones. That comment is now about as lame as you are. Ok maybe not that lame.

  • BM
    July 01, 2010 - 20:01

    IF THE GOVERNMENT MAKES ANY MORE CUTS TO THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM, ITS JUST AS WELL TO MOVE THE HOSPITALS TO ANOTHER PROVINCE. HOW DO THE DR. OF LEWISPORT BE EXPECTED TO WORK WITHOUT XRAY AND LAB FACILITIES. COME ON, FOR GOD SAKE,
    WHAT!!!!!! THEY NEED THE MONEY FOR THEMSELVES, TO PUT IN THEIR OWN POCKET. LIKE ED ,,,,,,,

  • Charlie Oliver
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Danny needs your dedication and devotion more than ever now Bones. Lets see you defend this action by The Terminator (Williams) and The Undertaker (Oram). By the way any luck with that job in Premier dannys office yet Bones? Good luck with that. You have the backing of all the haters we think you deserve to be there.

  • Graham
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Dr. Ed Mercer seems to be one confused man. He should see a specialist about that. Who does he think he is trying to tell gov what to do ? Another dictator.

  • Lorraine
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    Great news report... encouraging to see health professionals stating facts and questioning their government on the reasoning behind such a move. It doesn't make any difference with the PAC system where your x-ray is taken, a specialist in Gander or St. John's can look at the x-ray as well as family doctors. Journalists keep digging.. I'm sure you'll find that this decision was made by someone without any medical or financial background, it doesn't make medical or financial sense!

  • tim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:45

    Mr Oram, a person who do not read is no better off than one who can't read. We realize you are unable to read so you don't keep notes on the peoples work you do. I think you should go to school, you would learn a lot of stuff.
    This is one horrible command from any premier, especially one who says he has good business sence. I think our premier is out to lunch when he command his subordinate Paul Oram do cut services at Flowers Cove and Lewisport.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Nice touch Bones. Gone in the witness protection program are ya. Pretend to be Graham so you dont have to answer any of the questions he and others want you to answer on here. You gutless wonder. Even when you pretend to be someone else Bones you sound as lame as you really are. Your not even a good fake. This Government and this Premier is corrupt Bones. DEAL WITH IT.