Moncton doctors speak out against DNA sequencer in Saint John

Saint John Regional Hospital. Steve Fiander/Global News

MONCTON – Doctors at both the Moncton and Georges L. Dumont Hospitals are spoke out against a decision to fund a DNA sequencer in Saint John on Tuesday.

In an open letter, the doctors said, “In funding this second service, the Premier is allocating a costly and unjustified health care expense.”

They added that the decision doesn’t make sense given New Brunswick’s shrinking demographic.

The letter is signed by Dr. Rémi LeBlanc, President of Hospital Medical Staff at the Dumont Hospital and his counterpart at the Moncton Hospital, Dr. Pam Mansfield.

Dr. Dhany Charest, Chief of Staff at the Moncton Hospital and Dr. Linda LeBlanc, Secretary of Hospital Medical Staff at the Dumont Hospital also signed the letter.

“We already have a centre, which is fully accredited here,” Dr. Rémi LeBlanc told Global News. “We’re doing all the DNA sequencing tests, which need to be done and we’re going to have a second centre, which is going to offer the same thing.”

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The letter also called the decision to fund a second sequencer in the province, considering the province’s financial constraints “an insult to health care professionals as well as the general population…”

“We’re in a health care [situation] where we’re actually trying to cut a lot of dollars,” Dr. LeBlanc said. “We’re trying to save money. We’re cutting services.”

He said this isn’t the kind of situation where the province can justify having two DNA sequencers, adding that currently only Ontario and Quebec have two centres in their province.

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In a statement to Global News credited to Health Minister Victor Boudreau, the Department of Health said it was working together with the two health authorities and other stakeholders to come to a resolution.

“It is my hope that the two RHA’s can work together. By doing so will increase capacity when it comes to genetic testing in and that comes in New Brunswick (sic) and ensure these machines are being used in the best way possible to meet the needs of our province.”

The President of the Atlantic Canada Research Institute did not want to comment Tuesday, but previously they have said they will stop offering patient testing when the Saint John sequencer begins operating as the cost won’t be worth it.

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