Vitality accused of silencing the doctors, the public control a message in the middle of COVID-19

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The Vitalité Health Network is accused of silencing the doctors and the control of the public display under the reign of outgoing president and chief executive officer Gilles Lanteigne.The criticism by a former director of health and former member of the board of directors come after the regional health authority has published a retraction of the statement last week on the name of a doctor who had expressed concerns about the prevention and control protocols on the COVID-19 unit at the Regional Hospital in Campbellton.

“We have to admit that for the sake of appearances, it is as if we had forced her to retract,” said the retirement of Dr. Louis-Marie Simard, former president and chief executive officer of the former Beauséjour Health Authority, which pre-dated Vitality.

“If this is what has been done, twisting your arms is certainly not a good management practice,” he said.

“As far as I can remember, what I preach is what I did … I don’t think anyone in the organization had feared that the administration was going to slap on the wrist if he was talking about. ”

Last Thursday, Mr. Vona MacMillan, a family doctor based in Charlo, 30 km east of Campbellton, told Radio-Canada that she was “a little nervous” from the COVID-19 of the unit, in a hospital of Campbellton, at the end of the 10 members of the staff had been tested positive for the respiratory illness.

She called on the Vitality in order to allow staff to wear N95 masks during the processing of COVID-positive patients, regardless of the procedure being performed.

By 4:20 p.m. on Friday, Vitality released a statement saying MacMillan “wishes” to retract his comments and apologize.

Mr. Vona MacMillan has called for a wider use of N95 masks for the staff of the hospital of Campbellton, the treatment of COVID-19 patients. (Serge Bouchard/Radio-Canada)

In Simard, a such control of the public message is dangerous for democracy and for the confidence of patients in the health care system.

“Let the people know that a doctor can be threatened and [forced] to withdraw from the contract. When I go to the doctor in his office, I have a condition that could have an impact with the public, and I see that my doctor told me a story, and didn’t seem comfortable, then I trust him? ” he said.

“Health is a personal system. When I talk to a health care professional, I have to feel 100% convinced that he is trying to do the best he can for my case. “

Public health must be transparent

Simard acknowledges that certain laws should govern the right to speak. “I have the right to speak, but I do not have the right to lie and I do not have the right to reveal the intimate or private information, there is a framework. ”

But he also noted Vitality depends on the Ministry of Health, financed by public funds.

“When we talk about a health service, it is a public service, paid for by the public and managed by the public, therefore it needs to be transparent. ”

Lanteigne has defended itself, saying that there is no gag on the MacMillan case. It is she who has decided to retract his statement, he said.

Can someone speak to the media? Of course, they can talk to.– Gilles Lanteigne, Vitality president and chief executive officer

“She decided that, after examination, to recognize that the standards and procedures established by Public Health of canada and the New Brunswick Public Health are appropriate, that patients are safe and that there is enough material in the county of Restigouche, and that it would be to follow the guidelines and the policies and procedures of the Vitalité Health Network, “he said to the journalists during the question period of the Vitality of the annual general meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

MacMillan ” has decided to do it on his own. She is an adult. She decided to speak. ”

Lanteigne, says Vitality — as most organizations have a policy on who can speak on behalf of the organization.

But he sees his almost 7 400 doctors and medical staff as ” ambassadors “.

“Can someone speak to the media? Of course, they can talk to. They do … as [a] a private citizen, ” he said.

“When we have someone who works for us, there is an obligation on both sides … that we respect and that we expect everyone to abide by the code of their policy and their ethical framework which guides their professions,” he added.

“We were not allowed to speak to the media “

Norma McGraw, who resigned in February as vice-president of the Vitalité Health Network board of directors to protest against the health reform plans, said she is not surprised to hear about the MacMillan case.

“We were not allowed to speak to the media, that’s for sure … We were not allowed to go and ask questions to the employees to know how they were, how the services were. These are things that we were not supposed to do, ” she said, adding that she believes the information control has been exercised within the senior management to ensure delivery of a consistent message.

Norma McGraw has resigned as vice-chairman of the board of directors in February last, publicly denying the Vitality of the assertion that a vote had been held behind closed doors on the planned overnight closure of the emergency rooms of six small hospitals. (Radio-Canada)

McGraw has said that she regrets, however, that a physician who has expressed legitimate concerns seems to have been reduced to silence.

“This doctor, if she has violated the channels of communication, it is because she felt concerned … It is a cry of alarm. Has it been listened to? I guess not, otherwise it would not have been the ” retraction. ”

Three first-line, health care providers, who have worked on the COVID-19 unit told CBC News last week that they do not feel safe under the current personal protective equipment protocols, in particular the one that allows the use of N95 masks only for procedures that produce airborne droplets.

Masks, but not the N95 masks, should be worn all the time in the hospital.

The employees stated that the employees were denied extra protection when the treatment COVID-19 patients, and the lack of protocols to create a risk of spread in the hospital.

The employees said they were afraid to bring the virus home to the vulnerable members of the family and called for Vitality for the change.

As of last Wednesday, 10 employees of the Regional Hospital in Campbellton had tested positive for COVID-19 and 31 others were self-isolation.

One of the positives has been determined to be a false positive on the weekend, Lanteigne said.

About half of the 40 affected employees should return to work on Friday, he said.

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