Labrador-Grenfell loses only permanent psychiatrist

Labrador Grenfell Health's only permanent psychiatrist is moving on next month, leaving only three travelling psychiatrists for the entire region.

Health authority says loss won't affect patient care

Delia Connell, vice president with Labrador-Grenfell Health, said that most clients with mental health issues do not need to see a psychiatrist. The specialists are usually only used for consults. (CBC)

Labrador Grenfell Health's only permanent psychiatrist is moving on next month, leaving only three travelling psychiatrists for the entire region.

Psychiatrist Dr. Minal Mistry recently resigned and will be gone by mid-October.

A spokesperson for the Labrador-Grenfell Health Authority, however, said this won't affect patient care and that there is no need for concern.

"I never want our clients to feel like they are dependent on any one professional to assist them in wellness and recovery when it comes to mental health," said Delia Connell, vice president of aboriginal affairs and community services.

She said very few clients actually need to see a psychiatrist.

"It's kind of like a pyramid where the broader spectrum of mental health services is actually delivered by an interdisciplinary team," said Connell.

"It's only a very small percentage of our clients who require consults through psychiatric services and they're normally just very short term ... Our physicians are well equipped to manage clients with suicidal ideation, clinical depression, those kinds of issues."

Connell said clients who are referred to a psychiatrist usually only see the specialist once or twice.

Region will continue to use 'telepsychiatry' 

Labrador-Grenfell Health often uses teleconferencing for psychiatric consults, through which clients have access to adult and child specialists in St. John's.

According to Connell, this "telepsychiatry" has worked exceptionally well.

"We are utilizing telepsychiatry far more than we're utilizing any one permanent psychiatrist or any one locum psychiatrist. Our needs have been fully met in terms of psychiatric consults," she said.

In the meantime, Labrador-Grenfell Health has hired a new temporary psychiatrist in St. Anthony, who will practice in the area for the next four months.

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