By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES – As the years go by, residents have observed once commonplace health care services eliminated from the Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre (LHC). For example, it has been years since any baby has been born there, excluding an emergency.
Accessibility to essential health services is always a high concern, but that increased lately with rumours that ultrasounds were no longer available at LeGrow.
Western Health responded to inquiries to reassure residents that this service is still firmly in place, although there may be specific circumstances that require travel to a larger facility.
“Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre has a sonographer on staff. Ultrasound procedures including abdominal, pelvic, and obstetrics are routinely scheduled and completed at this site. In situations where the sonographer is unavailable, clients are provided with the opportunity to travel to another site, including Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital in Stephenville, or Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook, to have an ultrasound completed. There are also specialized procedures in ultrasound that are only completed at Western Memorial, including biopsies and echocardiograms, which require the presence of a radiologist,” stated Connie Boland, communications officer with Western Health.
Travel to get an ultrasound in a larger facility requires a referral.
“Outpatients who require an ultrasound procedure not offered at Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre will have their referral slip forwarded to Western Memorial, either by their provider or LHC staff. The procedure will be booked by medical imaging staff at Western Memorial and notification sent to their physician’s office. Inpatient referrals are scheduled as an inpatient and travel arranged by LHC,” said Boland.
If traveling is necessary, patients can get their travel covered.
“The Medical Transportation Assistance Program (MTAP) provides financial assistance to beneficiaries of the Medical Care Plan (MCP) who incur substantial out-of-pocket travel costs to access specialized insured medical services which are not available in their immediate area of residence and/or within the province,” clarified Boland.
Another recent change that Southwest coast residents may have noticed is that they now require a referral to a specialist to get an appointment for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) procedure.
“Western Memorial currently has one MRI scanner. MRI procedures are high in demand, require specialized staff, and long table times. MRI referrals are limited to specialists to help facilitate the optimal, efficient use of this scanner. This has been Western Health’s approach since the MRI scanner was installed,” stated Boland.
Another change was due to COVID-19, which impacted quarantine procedures. Staff inside the hospital are unable to assist by helping an elderly person get into the hospital from a vehicle, for example. Without a companion to help, the alternative is to call an ambulance, even if it is just to get inside from the hospital’s own parking lot.
“Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre is following guidelines set out by the provincial direction to respond and reduce risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The site has several procedures related to medical appointments, visitation, personal protective equipment (PPE), and screening (for patients, visitors, and staff). If a patient was having trouble making their way from the parking lot to the health centre, this practice remains unchanged during the current pandemic: the patient may call an ambulance for paramedic assistance. Site staff are not responsible for a patient entering the health centre. A patient may avail of a family member or home care worker who can assist. A staff person may complete a risk assessment for assisting a patient outside of the building, such as in the case of an unconscious patient or other acute emergencies,” said Boland. “A patient is encouraged to plan for getting from a vehicle to the health centre, for example, with the assistance of a family member or home care worker.”
How long the quarantine procedures will stay in place at LeGrow remains uncertain as the pandemic lingers on.
“It is imperative to have these procedures in place to ensure the safety and protection of our staff, residents/patients, and health care facilities from COVID-19.”