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September 26, 2001

Nancy Lawrence
Media Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 77642


London Health Sciences Centre responds to media coverage of physician departures

(LONDON, Ontario) - London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) has received numerous requests today to provide information regarding recruitment successes following recent media coverage concerning physician departures from the hospital. In light of recent stories profiling those individuals who have chosen to leave London, LHSC also wants to reassure the community that the needs of patients will continue to be met as transition plans are developed.

"In the case of pediatric cardiac surgeon, Dr. John Lee, we are in the process of finalizing strategies to address the needs of his patients. Some examples include working with specialists from Hamilton who will come to London to perform those cases where the patient is not stable enough to be transferred to other centres. We could train members of our existing surgical staff to perform procedures currently done by Dr. Lee and we could ask that those surgeons who already have these skills use them to treat pediatric patients. Finally, if it is medically appropriate to transfer children to Toronto or Ottawa for surgery, that will be considered as well," stresses Dr. Murray Girotti, Vice-President Medical/Dental Staff, LHSC.

LHSC President and CEO, Tony Dagnone, appeared on a local radio talk show today to discuss the loss of Dr. Lee and reiterate LHSC's commitment to providing appropriate interim strategies to meet the needs of these patients.

"Canadians, and no doubt Londoners, highly value health care and have a right to expect that their medical needs will be met in the right place, at the right time, with the right outcomes. That is the intent of our ongoing scoping and sizing project. We are evaluating the full range of services which we currently provide, not just from a financial perspective, but also looking at our ability to appropriately resource the service from a staffing and technology perspective," adds Dagnone.

Recruitment and retention issues are not unique to health care. As a teaching hospital, however, it is part of our mandate to train individuals to become the best in their chosen fields. LHSC is proud of its contribution to health care in this province and beyond, as these highly-skilled people move on to work in other centres.

Recruitment of medical specialists is incredibly challenging, competitive and time consuming given the high demand for such specialists and the few people in Canada with the necessary skills. Given that reality, however, the City of London has welcomed 78 specialists in the past 24 months, more than 60 of whom have come specifically to LHSC. The 78 specialists break down as follows:

  • five clinical neuroscience specialists
  • nine radiologists
  • five obstetricians/gynecologists
  • five emergency medicine specialists
  • three family medicine specialists
  • four psychiatrists
  • eight general medicine physicians
  • seven pathologists
  • 11 surgeons
  • five anesthetists
  • eight oncologists
  • and eight pediatric specialists.

"Why did these individuals choose London Health Sciences Centre? I believe it is because LHSC is a premier teaching hospital with a reputation for excellent patient-centred care. We are successful at recruiting the best and the brightest because we work in partnership with our health care and research partners and community leaders in London throughout the recruitment and retention process," adds Dr. Girotti.

As previously stated, LHSC is in the process of evaluating the range or scope of services it will provide as part of its four-year Renewal Plan. It is a process that is near completion.

Recommendations will be put forth to the Board of Directors for deliberation in the near future. At this time, LHSC can neither confirm nor deny that any service currently offered will be offered in the future.

"Once the Board has reached a decision, our first priority will be to share those decisions with our staff and physicians, then to the community at large and our health care partners. What I can commit to is this - no patient will be denied the care they require. The location of the delivery of care may change, but patients will receive the care they need. Implementation of any decisions will also occur gradually to ensure patients' needs are met. We must accept that as a hospital, we can't be all things to all people. We are, therefore, engaging in this difficult yet necessary process," adds Dagnone.

"We ask for your patience as we work through this process. It is time consuming, and we recognize that uncertainly can lead to anxiety, but we need to ensure that the right decisions are being made with the best outcomes in mind," Dagnone says.