New Brunswick Medical Society warns of health-care gaps after Clinic 554 closes

Click to play video: 'Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights' Clinic 554 shuts down after months of advocacy efforts for abortion rights
After advocates, federal party leaders and senators tried to prevent the closure of the province's only out-of-hospital abortion provider, Clinic 554 has shut down. – Oct 2, 2020

New Brunswick’s only clinic offering abortions outside of hospitals and family care practice Clinic 554 has closed its doors to most of its patients. The New Brunswick Medical Society now says this loss will create a gap in health-care services.

The clinic ended most care on Sept. 30, but some publicly-funded services are still offered to a few vulnerable patients with complex care.

“I am still seeing some people,” said Clinic 554 owner Dr. Adrian Edgar.

While he hopes to expand his practice again, Edgar says New Brunswick’s new Health Minister Dorothy Shephard has yet to return his calls.

Re-opening “would save the health-care system time, space, money,” Edgar told Global News on Saturday.

Read more: Security removes tents from protesters during vigil for Clinic 554 at N.B. legislature

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With the closure of Clinic 554, New Brunswickers lost more than just an abortion clinic.

“The province of New Brunswick has well over 35,000 orphan patients right now who are looking for family doctors and certainly the closure of Clinic 554 is going to add to that list,” Dr. said Chris Goodyear, the new N.B. Medical Society president.

The practice also provided transgender health care and prided itself in being LGBTQ2I+ friendly.

But it constantly faced financial ruin due to lack of funding from the provincial government.

In New Brunswick, abortions are only offered in three locations: two hospitals in Moncton and one hospital in Bathurst, as previous N.B. governments have not repealed a regulation banning the funding of abortions outside of hospitals.

Click to play video: '3,000 patients to be put on waitlist if Clinic 554 closes doors' 3,000 patients to be put on waitlist if Clinic 554 closes doors
3,000 patients to be put on waitlist if Clinic 554 closes doors – Sep 23, 2020

Higgs has also received criticism from the federal government on the Canada Health Act.

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Ottawa had actually reduced the Canada Health Transfer to New Brunswick by $140,216, as a result of patient charges for abortion services provided outside of hospitals in 2017.

“I think it’s very clear that there is an obstruction of health-care services in New Brunswick,” Edgar said.

Goodyear says losing the clinic will create a gap in health-care services, and that the Medical Society is still advocating for preservation of the clinic.

“Certainly the closure of the clinic does not mean that our efforts are going to be halted, at all,” said Goodyear.

“We would invite the Premier to sit down with the concerned doctors, the Medical Society and RHAs to have this discussion,” he said.

Read more: 36 senators sign letter in support of Clinic 554

Earlier this week, 36 senators from across Canada released a statement in support of Clinic 554, and Edgar said two out-of-province physicians reached out to him with offers to come to the province and try to keep the clinic going.

The New Brunswick government maintains it is not in violation of the Canada Health Act by not funding the clinic.

Newly appointed Health Minister Shephard declined an on-camera interview.


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