Some wait times shorter outside city: Eastern Health

Barb Sweet
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Vickie Kaminski, president and CEO of Eastern Health, speaks with Dave Murphy, president of the Conception Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

Patients may routinely flood into St. John’s for speciality medical appointments, but Eastern Health has started advising metro dwellers to go outside the overpass for services with shorter wait times around the re-


Some services are only available in St. John’s, but other services — magnetic resonance imaging, CT scans, routine ultrasounds and some nuclear medicine — can be accessed faster in various facilities around the region while the waits are backlogged in St. John’s.

“If you think about it, there’s no hesitation to say to somebody from Carbonear they are driving to St. John’s for a specialist appointment, but we have hesitated to say go out there for a CT scan,” Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski said following a speech to the Conception Bay Area Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

“So we’re not forcing anybody, but we know for elective procedures, our list is long and the wait is long in the city.”

Eastern Health will soon post on its website a comparison of wait times. Going outside the city to facilities such as in Clarenville and Carbonear is voluntary.

“The fact is we advise many of our patients of shorter wait times outside St. John’s and many still prefer to wait,” Kaminski told the chamber.

As examples, Kaminski said one patient told her he would have had a five-month wait in St. John’s for a non-emergency ultrasound and he received one in Clarenville in 3.5 weeks.

A non-urgent CT scan in Burin is five days’ wait, while the same test can take an average of 87 days’ wait at Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s.

An ultrasound, non urgent, can be had in Clarenville in 34 days, whereas a patient seeking the same in St. John’s would have to wait 145 days.

“We have provided information on wait times to community physicians and are encouraging everyone to ask the question: where in the system of Eastern Health can you get the service you need on a quicker basis and make use of that service?” Kaminski said.

She said the same number of staff is needed to maintain certain services, whether there is a large population or a small one ,but wait times vary across the province.

“You can have your hip or knee replaced outside of St. John’s sooner in some circumstances. We need to shore up our resources here, but at same time use all resources across the province,” Kaminski said.

“Really,    our message is Eastern Health is a conglomerate of services across a large area. It’s not St. Clare’s or Health Sciences or the Waterford. It’s lots and lots of different programs and services. And we have to make use of all of them. We can’t put more new into one place if we have another area that is underutilized.”

She said the authority is also keeping an eye on how referring people outside the city affects wait times in those communities, and said she doesn’t expect a backlash.

“So far, I think they would be happier to know that they are going to be able to keep the service there because sometimes you get physicians or technicians who aren’t busy and they get bored and they are thinking, ‘Where else can I go?’ So we would like to make sure we use those resources, keep people there, keep them well informed, keep them up to date. So it’s better for that rural community as well,” Kaminski said.

Within metro, Eastern Health is also promoting short wait times for blood services at the Major’s Path clinic, 15-20 minutes compared to 40 minutes at hospital sites. And, she noted, it has free parking. But she acknowledged the wait time may balance out once people get in the habit of going there.

Meanwhile, Kaminski said the province hasn’t yet seen much change in recruitment as a result of the province’s salary settlement with doctors, but she said Atlantic parity will eventually show results.

“This time next year we’ll see success in small pockets and two or three years out we will have had bigger success,” she said.

Organizations: Conception Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, Health Sciences Centre

Geographic location: Clarenville, Carbonear, Burin

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Recent comments

    January 28, 2011 - 22:14

    ok so i have to wait 6 months for an ultrasound i live in st.john's. I live in pain daily. is the ceo going to fix this system,? is she going to make it all better? I cannot afford to go outside the city to the other hospitals for ultrasound if i could i would. especially if i could get one faster. i see no solutions to the wait times issue in this article.

  • LR
    January 28, 2011 - 08:41

    I live outside St. John's but have to go there for any medical tests because the transportation system is not available for me to get from my hometown to areas other than St. John's.

      February 01, 2011 - 11:51

      After reading this article I feel that Ms. Kaminski lays it on and she lays it on thick . There are no solutions offered to those of us who have to wait months for x ray appointments. It is all PR and smoke screens. I guess we can travel 300 miles to Burin and get a ultrasound or something. Not!!

    • Morris Day
      February 01, 2011 - 12:01

      Ms Kaminisky I am sure I am not going to go outside the city to get an x ray. You tell the people outside the city to avail of the diagnotic imagining facilities in their own areas instead of them coming over to St.John's and making our waiting lists longer. The x ray technicians in Rural Avalon are just as qualified as those in the city. And how about Ms Kaminski tell the physicians from Rural Avalon to not refer their patients to St. John's if they can get the same x ray in the area where the patient lives? Sound like a plan?

  • james
    January 28, 2011 - 08:20

    most doctors have pillitis as for imformation forget it follow up forget it to busy seeing how many they can squeezw in in a day

  • Dorothy
    January 28, 2011 - 08:19

    I was at Majors Path for routine blood work on January 27th and waited in line for 15 minutes to check in and then another 65 minutes to have the blood work completed. I think I could have done better at one of the hospitals. Majors Path used to be very quick, I agree, but now everyone is going there because of the announcements of the wait time to be so much faster.

  • Joyce
    January 28, 2011 - 08:17

    Kaminsky is blowing smoke. In a big way. This is just a nice PR way of saying the health care system continues to be in shambles. If you can't service the majority of the population in their locality, and have done nothing to rectify this, then you aren't doing your job. She's too busy firing and intimidating staff and sucking up to White Coat Black Art and other outlets to get her name in the media. This is a CEO who cares more about PR then her people, who despise her anyway. What about the lack of service coverage in the specialties outside the overpass? I guess if we double up the number of cars on the highway, either someone coming in to see a specialist, or going out to get an MRI, will hit the moose or flip their car on icy roads. This is a shocking abdication of responsibility and Kaminsky would know that if she paid attention instead of writing self-serving press releases. As a shill for the health minister this CEO is damaging even further the credibility of the regional health authority. Wasn't there a health minister that once suggested that people from Lewisporte should get their xrays while shopping in another town? What happened to him? Phuuuulease! Kaminski should go the same way as that ex-policito. Away, away away. Let's get someone who puts patients and staff first, not her media profile. She's an embarrassment.

  • Randy
    January 28, 2011 - 08:12

    When the doctor sends in the rec. for the procedure to Eastern Health. Is it not possible to give the client those options at that time. Randy you can have it done at the Health Science facility in St. John's in 145 days or you can have it done at Dr. G.B. Cross Memorial Hospital in Clarenville in 34 days which would you prefer. Maybe Ms. Kaminski we should have central booking for all Eastern Health so that they can give us clients the option.

  • mj
    January 28, 2011 - 08:01

    I pay the financial burden of living in St. Johns' and I'm not well; I think i have the right to have my medical care in here, not burn my gas to go around the bay. If those services are so underutilized where they are, bring them in here1 Kaminsky is out to lunch!

  • Mik
    January 28, 2011 - 07:51

    As a hospital employee it amazes me how little doctors inform their patients. They do not explain procedures let alone suggest that perhaps they could opt to have it done in a shorter time frame. Half the time their requisitions for their appointments are not even fully filled in with regard to their names, MCP numbers birthdates, and correct history.. Maybe by starting with these highly paid professionals some of these issues may be resolved..