. . . This article appeared in the February 7, 2018 isse of the Interlake Enterprise . . . By Teresa Carey
As of Apr. 1, Dr. John Donnelly will no longer be practicing at the Arborg Health Clinic. His contract with EIRHA has not been renewed, and no reason was given as to why. He has received 90 days advance notice to vacate the premises.
This news was sudden and it has left Donnelly, and others, feeling more than perplexed.
“You’re left wondering, what have I done to make them try to get rid of me,” he said. “Why would they want to get rid of the town’s most experienced doctor?”
Donnelly has been a family doctor in Arborg for over 12 years and has been renting the building and running the clinic at its current location adjacent to the hospital.
“Nobody seems to know. I’ve not a clue as to what is going on or why. Everyone else working on my behalf can’t get any answers either, “Donnelly said. “This decision seems to have not been made by the health board. I don’t think they even knew about it.”
Donnelly is dismayed that even Interlake MLA, Derek Johnson has been silent on the matter and has not returned his calls.
“He has known about this for at least two months,” Donnelly said. “I emailed him several times before Christmas. He hasn’t returned my call.”
Donnelly said that his lawyers have not been able to get information from the regional health authority representatives regarding this matter either.
The long-time Arborg doctor wants some concrete answers. “Why is there a veil of secrecy about all this?” he asked.
Despite the unfortunate turn of events, Donnelly has no plans to stop his practice and is vowing to stay in Arborg. His immediate plan is to find a temporary location in town until he can establish a permanent clinic by the beginning of summer. He is anticipating that the Town of Arborg will assist him in establishing a new clinic.
“The people of this town have been very supportive,” he said.
Donnelly and others in Arborg have been digging around for answers, but there is confusion as to what has prompted the changes.
Lauralou Cicierski, spokesperson from the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority (IERHA) could not comment because the matter concerns a contractual negotiation. However, she provided the following statement:
“Interlake-Eastern RHA will be seamlessly taking over operations at the clinic affiliated with the Arborg hospital. We don’t foresee any inconvenience to patients during the period of transition. Drs. Akinpelu and Mann will continue to practice at this clinic and both of these doctors are welcoming new patients…[IERHA] is planning to grow primary care services in Arborg. The town and surrounding area are capable of supporting four physicians. We are planning to staff to that level and anticipate at least one additional physician arriving this fall. We hope to add other complementary care services required by people in Arborg. We will be establishing the Arborg clinic as a home clinic under the primary care model. Home clinics are a patient centred home base in the health care system. A home clinic will provide patients with timely access to care, coordinate care with the health care system if a patient is referred and manage patients’ health care records in a way that they can be shared with other care providers as needed. This home clinic is designed to provide comprehensive and continuous care throughout a patient’s life,” the statement read.
Cicierski also copied a media release “that speaks to the value of having a regular care provider in terms of reducing the need to visit the emergency department”.
No word, however, has been given as to the fate of Arborg’s emergency department.