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P.E.I. patients needing vascular surgery now being treated in N.B. after new agreement


New Brunswick is now accepting patients from Prince Edward Island needing vascular surgery, after Nova Scotia decided it would no longer take those patients.

It’s not clear why Nova Scotia made the decision.

In a statement, Nova Scotia Health said at one time, the care of these patients was shared by both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, but after a period of time where all cases were seen in Nova Scotia, their care has now been switched to New Brunswick through an agreement by the three provinces.

“New Brunswick did not have the ability or capacity to provide this care for a time and now that they do, P.E.I. patients can receive the required care closer to home by being seen in that province,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Sean Hatchard at New Brunswick’s Department of Health said the change came after P.E.I. learned it would no longer be able to send these patients to Nova Scotia several months ago.

“[P.E.I.] made a request to New Brunswick for support. Several months ago, the provinces signed a memorandum of understanding that said New Brunswick would provide urgent/emergent vascular surgery services, on a case-by-case basis, for patients from P.E.I,” Hatchard said.

Since then, New Brunswick has been treating one to two P.E.I. patients per week. People needing a vascular procedure could be suffering from aneurysms or blockages in major arteries, which can be limb threatening. The wait time for the surgery in New Brunswick can range from two months to over a year.

Hatchard said discussions between the province, health authorities and N.B. Medical Society are ongoing on the matter.

It's certainly not unusual for patients from neighbouring provinces to get treatment across the region.

Dr. Paula Keating says the New Brunswick medical community wants to help, but she’s heard frustration among some surgeons that the change happened quickly, and they weren’t well consulted.

“The decision was initially made without their input, to the best of my knowledge and so I do hope that moving forward that they are consulted in their concerns and opinions and expertise are taken into consideration,” she said.

She also confirmed a hybrid operating room at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital would help with the backlog of patients needing a number of surgical procedures.

Over the last six months, Fredericton-area physicians have spoken out about the need for a hybrid O.R. They said the space was available and the Chalmers Foundation was ready to fundraise for the equipment – but ultimately a decision was made to place the specialized O.R. in Saint John, by a committee chaired by the health minister.

Dr. Keating says she’s concerned these decisions will cause wait times to increase.

“There's only a certain amount of available operating room time, nursing and anesthesia resources to support surgeries that may need to happen,” she said. “And we already know patients are waiting too long in many instances for necessary surgical procedures.”

CTV Atlantic reached out to Health P.E.I. for this story, and has yet to receive a response. Top Stories


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