It went on for about three hours, but when Dr. Justin French left a meeting with provincial politicians in St. John’s on Wednesday he was feeling a little better than when he went in.
“Overall, it was very positive,” he told The Western Star via telephone on Wednesday night.
“I think we are one step closer to delivering publicly-funded eye surgery in an offsite facility.”
French made headlines last week when it was discovered the provincial government had rejected his plan to finance the approximately $3.5-million construction of a surgical centre for ophthalmic excellence in Corner Brook.
On Wednesday, French met with the group of politicians, including Premier Dwight Ball and Health and Community Services Minister John Haggie, to create dialogue regarding the concerns of the government and to allow French to clarify some of the issues and identify advantages of his plan.
Haggie had said last week the project was rejected because the government did not agree that there would be cost savings to patients, as French had suggested. The government also disputed the volume of patients the doctor said he had on his wait lists.
“I think, and this is just from my perspective, we clarified the wait time issue,” French said Wednesday night. “We definitely agreed they are a very real issue and that wait times are definitely excessive.”
He said they also clarified the confusion over why his wait list numbers clashed with the government’s.
They also now have a better understanding of why their costs per case for current delivery of eye care were different, he said.
“We agree the number is likely somewhere in between,” said French, noting an agreement was reached to hire an independent consultant to conduct a full assessment of what the actual current cost per case is for cataract surgery delivered within a hospital setting.
“I think the biggest message is that the lines of communication are open,” he said. “There is certainly active negotiation ongoing as opposed to this being a done deal, as it was last week.”
In attendance to meet with Dr. Justin French were: