Ayer’s Cliff Clinic gets the go-ahead for a second doctor

By Gordon Lambie

The members of the Massawippi Valley Health Cooperative (CSVM) are breathing a sigh of relief after Health Minister Gaetan Barrette announced a special exception that will allow it to take on the services of a second doctor.

“Many people were waiting for this announcement,” said Richard Violette, President of the cooperative’s board of directors. “Now that we can say that this doctor is coming, they’ll be quite happy.”

Under the conditions of the new arrangement, the clinic will be able to take on the services of a local doctor at the beginning of her career, who will be required to work the majority of her time at the Ayer’s Cliff clinic for a minimum of 200 billable days. In speaking with The Record about the conditional deal, Barrette said that he believes the situation to be unprecedented.

“I cannot change the rules by which we are governed, but at the same time it is possible to make a special arrangement,” the health minister said. “We almost never do that, but I decided that considering the situation over there and since there was someone who was apparently willing to field some conditions in going to practice there, to make an exception.”

Barrette specified that this deal applies to the specific doctor in question, rather than the position. He added that the exception goes against his better judgment with regard to the training of new doctors, because he feels professionals at the beginning of their careers should be placed in environments that provide support through teamwork, but explained that this doctor’s willingness to take on the work in Ayer’s Cliff was important in the name of supporting the local community.

“It is a real issue for me to be able to ensure that the Anglophone community has access to care in English close to their homes,” the health minister said. “We have someone who is fully willing to start her career in this situation and I think it is win-win for everybody.”

Highlighting the condition that the doctor will need to do the majority of her work at the CVSM, Barrette argued that this new arrangement stands to change things significantly for the clinic.

“At the end of the process everyone will be better served than how they were before,” He said, and the President of the CSVM’s board agreed.

“(A doctor) was the only thing we needed,” Violette said. “Once this is in place, all the stress will be lifted.”

While the cooperative now has the permission it needed to go ahead with the new hire, the president said that there are still a few details that need to be sorted out before the Doctor can officially start work.

“It will be very shortly,” Violette said, underlining the fact that having a second doctor is a key part of making the clinic a viable and functional operation.

Reflecting on Barrette’s assistance following the clinic’s appeal for help at the end of the month of May, the president was very appreciative of the minister’s speed in dealing with the matter.

“Dr. Barrette committed to helping us on June first,” Violette said. “It took about six weeks and now we have the answer and it is really good.”

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