Baffin board to decide next month on Ottawa move

Baffin residents may know by the end of next month if they’ll get specialist services from Montreal or Ottawa.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUT – The Baffin health board will decide next month whether patients will travel to Montreal or Ottawa for southern medical treatment.

Earlier this year the health board decided to move its specialist services from Montreal to Ottawa, a move that drew a public outcry and prompted Health Minister Kelvin Ng to call for a review of the decision.

Ken MacRury, the interim chief executive officer of the Baffin Regional Health and Social Services board, said he’s asked both McGill University and the Ottawa Heart Institute to present proposals on how each would provide medical services to Baffin residents.

“We’re leaving it very much to them to tell us what’s available and what they propose and how we can form partnerships in working towards better health for residents of the Baffin,” MacRury explained.

Task force will review proposals

Both institutions have until January 12 to repond. At that time, board staff will review the proposals. The following week the proposals, along with any staff comments, will be reviewed again by a small task force, composed of staff and the public.

“We’re trying to balance this thing and have a very transparent process so everyone can understand and everyone can have some faith that what’s happening here is fair and above board,” MacRury said.

The group will then recommend to the health board which service to contract. The board will meet in late January to make a final decision. But that decision doesn’t have to be approved by Ng, MacRury said.

“The minister’s only concern is that we do it fairly and that there is justification for making whatever decision we do make. That was the concern last time. When you asked the question ‘why did you move to Ottawa?,’ well nobody was quite sure why we moved to Ottawa.”

Most patients still in Montreal

MacRury said that as of last week, there were about 30 Baffin patients in Montreal and only three in Ottawa. He added that the Baffin’s medevac service still runs out of Montreal, and that specialists having been travelling to the Baffin from both cities.

“It’s a mishmash right now. Very confusing.”

MacRury said the question of hospital accreditation is also being worked out.

The Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation last surveyed the hospital in 1994 and gave it a three-year accreditation, which was set to expire at the end of this year. A one-year extension, however, was granted based on a commitment that another survey will be conducted late next summer, and a plan is in place to survey all health services in the region for accreditation, likely in 1999.

“Based on that commitment, they have extended the accreditation of the hospital for another year,” MacRury said. “We will still have an accredited hospital come January 1.”

For the regional survey, the Council will likely choose three Baffin nursing stations to visit and evaluate, MacRury explained.

“They will look at our policies and procedures and all of those kinds of records we have, too,” he said.

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