Tignish’s Christmas present – a doctor

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The community of Tignish and its Health Co-op Center had a good thing going all those years when Dr. Baldev Sethi was their part-time physician. 

For much of his 37-year career Dr. Sethi divided his professional time between Western Hospital in Alberton and the afternoons in Tignish.  It worked well.  Tignish was well-served and Dr. Sethi built up a large and loyal caseload there.

But all good things come to an end.

Since Sethi’s retirement in May of 2012, many community members experienced difficulty accessing follow-up medical care in a timely fashion.

Now, with Dr. Declan Fox, who has been providing medical care in O’Leary on a part-time basis since 2000, signaling that he wants to re-locate his practice to the Health Co-op Center, Tignish residents have hope again. The Co-op’s board of directors believes they have attracted the type of personality that will be good for the health center and its patients.

This should not be seen as a loss for O’Leary, although it is that, too, but a gain for Tignish, where co-op board members are viewing his announcement as an early Christmas present.

The only difference between attracting a doctor from Northern Ireland, where Dr. Declan Fox is from, and attracting one from O’Leary is proximity. Any time a community attracts an experienced doctor, some other community loses out, either from not getting that doctor themselves, or because theirs is the doctor that moves on.

Of course, there is still a small hurdle to be overcome for all this to occur, as Health P.E.I. has to agree to change Fox’s billing arrangement to fee for service.

And, even then, the situation won’t be perfect, as Fox would continue to be available only on a part-time basis, about 15 weeks at a time, then back home to Northern Ireland. There would still need to be found a doctor for when he is home, and, of course, there would be a new opening to be filled in O’Leary. Overall, the complement of physicians in West Prince wouldn’t change. It would just get reconfigured in a way that a portion of the West Prince population that has been struggling the most with accessing timely care would get some extra medical attention.

Organizations: Western Hospital, Health Co-op Center, Co-op board

Geographic location: Tignish, O’Leary, Alberton Northern Ireland West Prince

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