Islanders need answers on lack of vascular services, says Opposition MLA
'It's a struggle when you don't have family to go with you'
A part-time vascular surgeon closed his P.E.I. office in February and that means Islanders now have to travel off-Island for those appointments, health officials confirmed.
The physician was providing pre- and post-operation assessments and some non-surgical vascular services — services that specialize in blood vessels.
Islanders must now travel to Halifax.
Government said it is working to improve the situation, while the Opposition wants a better look at what the change means, and how it affects people's lives.
Travelling for health appointments 'a struggle'
Green MLA Michele Beaton said more information is needed on the personal, as well as financial, cost involved when residents have to leave the Island for this specialized service.
"It's a struggle when you don't have a family to go with you or help you recover at home, it's a struggle to do that trip," she said, adding travel has become much harder because of COVID-19 restrictions as well.
Beaton said a constituent recently reached out to her concerned about the absence of vascular services on P.E.I.
"We need to be able to point out exactly why. Is it resourcing? Is it financial? Is it not enough people need it so we could never have enough expertise in that specialty?"
Health PEI trying to bring some services back
Vascular surgeries have not been offered on P.E.I. for almost a decade but office appointments have been available.
In an email, officials with Health PEI said it was determined it does not have the volume of cases to bring the specialized physicians, services and infrastructure required to perform these surgeries here.
We do have to make sure that we're getting the best bang for the buck.— Health Minister Ernie Hudson
In 2012, P.E.I.'s only vascular surgeon, Dr. Peter Midgley, resigned saying he was overwhelmed with the workload here.
Midgley was also the doctor most recently providing office appointments.
P.E.I. Minister of Health Ernie Hudson said the province does hope to have the non-surgical appointment service started up again.
"Right now with my department, they are working with Halifax, with surgeons to see when this can be put back in place again," said Hudson.
He said he couldn't provide a date when the services would return but that discussions were ongoing and the province hoped to have it "as soon as possible."
No immediate plans to bring vascular surgeries
He said there were no specific discussions happening looking at offering vascular surgery at the hospital here.
"It is a very specialized surgery, it's very specialized procedures, that requires substantial post-op care," he said.
"We do have to make sure that we're getting the best bang for the buck in providing services for all Islanders."
Health officials said Islanders who must travel off-Island for procedures may be eligible for supports to help with travel costs through out-of-province travel support programs.