Nfld. & Labrador

Left because of understaffing, pathologist says

The latest pathologist to resign at Eastern Health told CBC News the biggest reason for his decision was chronic understaffing at the health authority's pathology department.

The latest pathologist to resign at Eastern Health has told CBC News the biggest reason for his decision was chronic understaffing at the health authority's pathology department.

Dr. Dan Fontaine said "the inability to recruit and retain pathologists in Newfoundland" motivated his departure.

Fontaine handed in his resignation to Eastern Health on Monday. He is the third pathologist to quit the health authority since the public inquiry into faulty hormone receptor tests began in St. John's.

In April, Dr. Beverly Carter resigned and a second pathologist went on stress leave.

Speaking with CBC News on Thursday, Fontaine said he felt he didn't have a choice; he had to leave.

"When I look at it, I don't know how the people here have stayed as long as they have," he said. The workplace is a "rotating door," he added. "And I knew that coming in, but I thought maybe, maybe things would change."

Eight of the 19 pathologist positions at Eastern Health will be vacant in about two months, once those who have tendered their resignations leave.

Shortage could lead to longer wait times

Peter Dawe, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador division of the Canadian Cancer Society, said he found the news of the latest resignation "startling."

"Losing another position, and from what I understand, a well-respected pathologist who's a leader in the province, that's going to hurt, and it causes concern," Dawe told CBC News.

Dawe said he's worried that with three more pathologists now out of the picture, cancer patients will face longer wait times for future test results.

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