Dozens disrupt hospital announcement to protest Springdale doctor's departure

Springdale and area residents confronted the minister of health and Central Health.

Dr. Todd Young says without hospital privileges, he can't properly care for patients

Protesters line up outside of an announcement at the Springdale hospital on Wednesday. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The announcement of a new Springdale hospital was overshadowed Wednesday by more than two dozen protesters who want to see Central Health reinstate hospital privileges for a local doctor.

Dr. Todd Young said Monday he plans to close his Springdale clinic in the fall after years of fighting for hospital privileges, a decision that has many of his patients and supporters fuming.

The Central Health Authority said it is just following procedure and said it is still processing the most recent application by Young to regain his privileges.

Dr. Todd Young announced Monday that he is shutting down his family medicine practice in Springdale, effective Oct. 9. (CBC)

But many protesters are incensed by what they see as an effort to push a local, well-liked physician out of their town.

"If we have them here, why are we sending them away? He's right from our own home town and he has agreed to stay here," said Melinda King, one of Young's patients.

"It's time for the government to get off their butt and get up and do the right thing and give Dr. Young his privileges so we can be here at the hospital and he can be here when we need him."

Young first lost his hospital privileges, and his licence, in 2015 after being disciplined by the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Physicians and Surgeons for having sex with a patient.

Construction on new hospital announced

Health Minister John Haggie and interim Central Health CEO Louise Jones were in Springdale Wednesday to announce that construction of a new Green Bay Health Centre will be completed within the next 20 months.

Officials said the new facility will include an emergency room, space for doctors, laboratory and diagnostic services, and a nine-bed inpatient area. There will also be an area dedicated to rehabilitation.

Protestors talk to Health Minister John Haggie at the hospital announcement on Wednesday. (Garrett Barry.CBC)

But Haggie and Jones were grilled about the health authority's treatment of Young.

"We heard very clearly the concerns about primary care in the Springdale area in relation to Dr. Young and his request for privileges, said Haggie.

"The facts of the case are that admitting privileges for any physician are determined by a group of peer physicians within the region, called a credentialing committee."

Central Health disputes Young's claims

Earlier this week, Young issued a statement on Facebook and said he had "exhausted all efforts" to get hospital privileges.

He said he's given the required three months notice to the College of Physicians and Surgeons and will close his family practice on Oct. 9.

Interim Central Health CEO Louise Jones says ultimately Todd Young's peers will determine if he gets hospital privileges. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

But Central Health quickly disputed that in a statement, saying he had filed a new application for privileges on June 22 and the authority was awaiting more information from him before processing his request. 

Jones said there was nothing stopping Young from closing his clinic.

"We'd like for him to stay in the area to continue to deliver on the services that he has, but if that's a decision that he makes, he's an independent practitioner at this point in time," she said.

Jones said if Young closes his clinic, the remaining doctors in the region will pick up his patients.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Young said he will not be sending additional information to the health authority because he doesn't feel his latest application is being taken seriously.

He said while he can order lab and diagnostic tests, he needs to be able to admit patients with chronic illnesses or who need palliative care and believes he is the only doctor in the region to be denied that right. He said other physicians who operate without privileges don't want them.

With files from Garrett Barry

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