March 17, 2017 5:07 pm
Updated: March 17, 2017 5:08 pm

Horizon Health denies crisis situation regarding thoracic surgery in Saint John area

WATCH ABOVE: The Horizon Health Network is answering concerns about the lack of dedicated thoracic surgeons in the Saint John area. As Andrew Cromwell reports, the health network will not go so far as to declare a crisis.

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Concerns are being raised in the Saint John region about the lack of a surgeon dedicated to performing thoracic procedures, which involve the lungs, esophagus and general chest area.

READ MORE: Doctors save Ontario woman’s life by removing her lungs

Some have called it a crisis.

But the Horizon Health Network says so far everyone in need has been taken care of either within or outside the province.

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“So far all the patients that needed in the past couple of weeks to have their surgeries done have been successfully referred to those surgeons so there has been no undo delay or problems,” said Dr. Edouard Hendriks, VP medical for the Horizon Health Network.

Eileen Shaw of Saint John found out she had cancer in her esophagus several weeks ago. A desperate search for a surgeon initially came up empty. One was eventually found which pointed them in the direction of chemotherapy and radiation first, something they were not made aware of.

“It’s definitely frustrating, especially since we’re already behind with not having a surgeon,” said Shaw’s daughter, Britney.

Hendriks said New Brunswick has an adequate number of thoracic surgeons but admitted consolidating that care is something that has been discussed.

READ MORE: Satisfaction in NB hospitals rise, cleanliness needs improvement: report

“Do we now have with the evolution of medicine enough volume for instance to justify two surgeons in the same area of expertise in Saint John,” he said

Meanwhile the Conservative opposition feels it’s an issue the health minister needs to address.

“It is a crisis,” said Health Critic Brian MacDonald.

“People are not getting the essential life saving surgeries that they need and we’ve got to make sure there’s something in place to make sure that people get the surgeries they need right away.”

READ MORE: Highlights from New Brunswick budget 2017: more spending, more debt

Health Minister Victor Boudreau did not speak to the issue Friday.

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