P.E.I.'s wait list for a doctor could grow by thousands

About 9,600 Islanders are on the patient registry waiting for a family doctor, according Marilyn Barrett, director of primary care and chronic disease for Health PEI. And she said that number could grow by about 4,000 with the recent announcement of two physicians leaving the province.

Health PEI trying to hire doctors to fill upcoming vacancies

Health PEI says in the past 12 months, 2,500 people have come off the patient registry, but 4,900 others have been added. (Stephanie Brown/CBC)

About 9,600 Islanders are on the patient registry waiting list for a family doctor, according to Health PEI.

Marilyn Barrett, director of primary care and chronic disease, said that number could grow by about 4,000 with the recent announcement that two physicians are leaving the province.

A notice in Dr. Michelle Barton's office in Summerside tells people she is leaving in June and that patients should add their names to the patient registry.

And a notice posted at Dr. Joey Giordani's office in Cornwall states he will not be taking appointments past July 31.

Barrett said when a doctor leaves or retires, Health PEI tries to recruit replacements to those areas to take on the patients. She said if the new doctors don't take on all of a departing physician's patients, the ones most in need would take priority.

First on, first off

On the patient registry, however, it's first on, first off — and not based on who needs health care the most, Barrett said.

"We don't triage them," she explained.

As our population increases, we're seeing more newcomers, and so that's had an impact obviously.— Marilyn Barrett

"You could come on the registry today and tell us you don't have any health problems," said Barrett. "Tomorrow you have a heart attack, find out you have diabetes and high cholesterol and high blood pressure. So that would be really difficult to manage."

Barrett couldn't say how long people generally remain on the patient registry, but she estimated in Queens County it could be four years.

She said the number of patients on the list is always evolving.

"We've placed over 2,500 people in the last 12 months but 4,900 have come on," she said. "As our population increases, we're seeing more newcomers, and so that's had an impact obviously."

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Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a statement about the registry being first come, first served to Dr. Michelle Barton. In fact, it was Marilyn Barrett who made the statement.
    May 04, 2018 10:34 AM AT