Reinstated unvaccinated doctor busy managing patient backlog, says receptionist

Jeannette Taillefer had a busy weekend, scheduling appointments for patients of Dr. Dianne Stackhouse, who was suspended more than four months ago for not getting her COVID-19 shot.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick lifted Stackhouse’s suspension last week, and Taillefer, its receptionist, has been “bombarded” with calls ever since.

Stackhouse has a busy family practice in Fredericton and Cambridge-Narrows. “She has a lot of elderly patients who desperately need their doctor,” Taillefer said.

“It’s going to be extremely busy for a little while because people are so eager to come back to see her because a lot of them left without their meds etc.”

Nine doctors who were unvaccinated or failed to provide proof of vaccination were suspended at midnight Nov. 30 at the request of hospitals, according to university registrar Dr. Ed Schollenberg, a decision that has left their patients scrambling to find care in one province. already desperate for more doctors.

About 55,000 people were on Patient Access NB’s waiting list for a primary care provider, as of the end of February, according to the latest statistics available, according to the Department of Health.

The college is still checking proof of vaccination for potential new doctors, Registrar Dr. Ed Schollenberg said, but that too could change. (Radio Canada)

Seven of the suspended doctors have now been reinstated, including four family doctors and three specialists, Schollenberg said Monday. The college is still waiting to hear the intentions of one family doctor, while another has decided to leave the province, he said.

Schollenberg attributed the policy reversal to a shift in policy within regional health authorities.

“We got a note from someone saying they were removing all of their requirements. So we realized we couldn’t justify continuing to suspend these doctors,” he said.

Stackhouse declined an interview, but “she is extremely happy to be able to return and continue to take care of people,” according to Taillefer.

“His number one priority is always to take care of his patients,” she said, noting that Stackhouse has been a doctor for more than 40 years.

“It’s her life, it’s what she does, it’s what she lives for.”

“Everyone is delighted”

Taillefer is booking between 30 and 40 patients a day at the moment, trying to focus on people who need to be seen “right away”.

She gave examples of people with extreme high blood pressure, someone who needs a referral for a mammogram, and people who need a prescription refill.

Calling patients has been “joyful for both parties,” she said.

“Just to hear my voice, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, does that mean it’s open? They’re just thrilled, everyone’s thrilled, so it’s a really nice feeling.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s work that I enjoy because it’s for the good of people.”

Stackhouse will see some of the patients in person, including some home visits, and others by phone, Taillefer said.

When asked if any patients had said they weren’t comfortable seeing Stackhouse because she wasn’t vaccinated, she said, “Nobody ever talked about it.

“However, those who knew she wasn’t going to get vaccinated or whatever, they made the choice to stay or ask for their records and go somewhere else or whatever. We didn’t get many.”

She didn’t say how many Stackhouse patients had lost, but said she continued to field calls from patients during Stackhouse’s suspension, and “a lot of them said, ‘That should be our choice. I don’t care if she’s not vaccinated. It should be my choice whether I go or not.'”

Taillefer expects office phones to continue ringing for the next few weeks as they try to deal with the backlog of patients and keep them away from emergency departments.

But she doesn’t care. “You know what? It’s a good deal, in my opinion.”

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