TIGNISH — Tignish Health Co-op board chairman Harley Perry is optimistic the delivery of health services in Tignish will soon return to normal.
Dr Declan Fox is in the process of moving his part-time practice to Tignish. Judy Morrissey-Richard, and Harley Perry, backgrsound, vice president and president of the Tignish Helath Co-op's board of directors, are looking forward to a return to more stable delivery of health services in the community.
He is basing that optimism on a decision by Dr. Declan Fox to relocate his medical practice to Tignish on a near full-time basis starting in March.
Fox, who is from Northern Ireland, has been working part-time in O’Leary since 2000. Since October he has also been helping out in Tignish one to two days a week.
“What I plan to do is move up here (to Tignish), make this my base,” Fox announced Thursday.
“Various people (from Tignish) have talked with me over the last year and a half about coming up here, so I started working up here in October… to see what it was like and what I could do here, and I think people are happy enough,” Fox said.
“People are very happy, added Judy Morrissey-Richard, vice-chair of the Tignish Health Co-op board of directors.
“The health centre is part of the community,” Perry noted. “We’re non-profit. We’re just trying to have bake sales to survive, but we realize what a doctor means in a community. It’s the lifeblood.”
Fox has applied to Health P.E.I. to switch to fee-for-service, as that will allow him to practice where he wants and to hire his own staff. That process is still going through the channels but Fox is confident everything will be in place when he returns to P.E.I. in the New Year.
He is heading home soon but returns in February and hopes to be seeing patients in Tignish four-days-a-week starting in March.
Although it is not certain how many of them are active, there are said to be 5,000 to 7,000 files in the health centre’s file room. Fox is confident the caseload will keep him busy. He will also continue to provide scheduled call in Western Hospital’s emergency department.
The congenial physician said he already knew many patients from Tignish through his medical practice in O’Leary and emergency room coverage in Alberton. Since assisting at the health centre, he’s been seeing many patients who hadn’t been seen by a physician in six months to a year even though some had health issues that required regular follow-up.
Dr. Baldev Sethi retired from a lengthy medical practice in Tignish in May 2012. Another doctor moved into the health centre but the arrangement didn’t work out.
This time it will be different, Perry insists.
“It takes the character; it takes the person, and we have the right person. We’re confident in that,” he said.
“Health P.E.I. and all of the politicians are willing to work with us to make this place work.”
Fox believes O’Leary will manage fine in his absence as it has other doctors and health-care professionals.
Morrissey-Richard characterizes Fox’s desire to re-locate to Tignish as an early Christmas present.
Fox will continue with a part-time arrangement, as he believes that is what allows him to maintain the energy needed to satisfy a busy practice.
“Me, I’m going to do the best I can,” he said.