Thunder Bay

Cuts to telemedicine agency unlikely to impact northern patient care, Ontario health official says

"We understand the positions are in Toronto, so for us at our end of the world, we don't see that as possibly having an impact on the front-line delivery of services," said Jocelyn Bourgoin, the chief executive officer of Santé Manitouwadge Health.

The CEO of Santé Manitouwadge Health says the lost jobs are mostly in Toronto and not on the front lines

The CEO of the hospital in Manitouwadge says telemedicine is an important feature in his facility.

The chief executive officer of Santé Manitouwadge Health says it's too early to tell what if any impact cuts to the Ontario Telemedicine Network will have on patients in northern Ontario — but Jocelyn Bourgoin says he does not anticipate the job losses will impact patient care.

CBC News reported Tuesday that the telemedicine agency had laid off 44 staff members, or approximately 15 per cent of its workforce, due to provincial funding cuts. 

"As you know, the technology is changing all the time, and a lot of times there's some efficiencies that can be found," Bourgoin said.

"The government has made multiple commitments that we need to use technology and advance the access to services through technologies, and OTN is one of the premiere success stories," he continued. "I don't think that anybody would place the progress we've made in jeopardy when the direction is to go further ahead and develop more patient access."  

Santé Manitouwadge Health uses telemedicine to help patients consult with specialists in other cities, Bourgoin said.  It also uses it for speciality training sessions, general education sessions and virtual meetings. 

It has been particularly helpful in the emergency room, he added, where doctors can consult with specialists while treating patients. 

"That has been a game-changer for patients and physicians as well," he said.

It's unlikely patients would be left in danger as a result of the staffing cuts, Bourgoin said.

"We understand the positions are in Toronto, so for us, at our end of the world, we don't see that as possibly having an impact on the front-line delivery of services," he added.

"But without knowing more about that, it's hard to predict."

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