PEI·Q & A

Health PEI on why doctors are leaving the province

Dr. Tom Dorran, executive director of medical affairs Health PEI, addressed concerns of cancer patients after news a second medical oncologist is leaving the province.

Dr. Tom Dorran says new medical oncologist starting July 2017

Dr. Tom Dorran, executive director of medical affairs Health PEI, says sending cancer patients off-Island for treatment is a 'very, very last option.' (CBC)

P.E.I. will be soon be down to one medical oncologist. One left earlier this year, and another is leaving at the end of the month.

That has left some cancer patients on P.E.I. feeling nervous.

Dr. Tom Dorran, executive director of medical affairs at Health PEI, addressed concerns about specialists leaving Wednesday in an interview with CBC News: Compass host Bruce Rainnie.

Why are specialists leaving P.E.I.?

We're flattered when they come to the Island and we kind of question why they would leave.- Dr. Tom Dorran

What's happening on P.E.I. is what happens across the country. It gets more attention here because we're small and we value our physicians.

We're flattered when they come to the Island and we kind of question why they would leave. These doctors leave for several reasons, it could be family, it could be more training, but this is part of the normal ebb and flow.

Can they make more money elsewhere?

It's conceivable. It depends on the specialist and it depends on their pay modality and it depends on the province, because each province sets their own fee codes just like P.E.I. does.

What do you say to concerned cancer patients?

I would understand why they'd be nervous. Diagnosis of cancer is very devastating for people. But the message I would get out is to the very best of our ability we'll make sure the folks get the cancer care, the cancer treatment they need, and remain on the Island. Sending anyone off-Island is a very, very last option.

How can you prevent sending patients off-Island with just one oncologist?

That one oncologist is surrounded and supported by a team of other physicians providing care.

What happens is the whole team then digs in and does whatever they can to support that person.

We also have a steady cadre of medical oncologist locums that join us from all over the country that have helped us out with vacations, but they also can also step in and support our existing oncologist until we can bring out capacity back up. But let's make no mistake, there is still a medical oncologist leading the team and leading their care.

How long will P.E.I. be down to one oncologist?

We do have a second medical oncologist all signed up and she's going to be joining us in July.

What are you doing to get back up to three oncologists?

That's been ongoing for several months now. We work the networks. Our existing oncologist works his network. It's a very small community here.

With files from CBC News: Compass

now