SPRINGDALE AND ROBERT'S ARM, N.L. - A patients committee based in Springdale and the surrounding Green Bay area is contemplating a class action civil suit against Central Health.
The committee was formed shortly after Dr. Todd Young’s announcement on July 10 to end his practice in Springdale by Oct. 9, due to the doctor’s lack of hospital privileges.
“We’re looking towards a civil suit with several other patients. We’ve spoken with two lawyers and both are eager to jump on it,” committee member Janice Walsh of Robert’s Arm told The Central Voice. “I have a choice of what doctor I want to see, it’s my choice under our Charter. If I go to a hospital, I feel they’re discriminating against me for not allowing me to see Dr. Young.”
Through conversations the committee had with lawyers, Walsh says the suit would be based on section seven of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedom and its statements regarding rights to health care.
By denying Young his hospital privileges, Walsh says Central Health is taking away her right to choose her medical provider and denying her medical provider all necessary tools to provide sufficient care to patients.
“The same day Young announced he was ending his practice I looked into getting a new doctor in Springdale and Grand Falls-Windsor, but they’re not taking any patients,” Walsh said. “Now I may have to go to Gander or Corner Brook just to get a prescription refilled.
“We just want our doctor to get back to work."
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Walsh and other committee members are now awaiting the decision from the Credentials Committee on whether or not Young will get his hospital privileges reinstated.
He lost these privileges after he admitted in 2015 to sexual misconduct with two female patients, one of which was a three-year affair.
Currently, Young still maintains his Main Street Medical Clinic practice in Springdale.
However, if any patient of his was admitted to hospital, he does not have the right to enter the facility and meet with the patient.
According to Walsh and MHA for Baie Verte-Green Bay Brian Warr, the credentials hearing regarding Dr. Young began Tuesday, Aug. 14 .
Walsh says if Central Health does not reinstate full privileges for Dr. Young, this class action suit is an option the patients committee would consider.
Springdale resident and fellow committee member Melinda King says the needs of patients should come first in Central Health’s decision.
“We are looking into [the civil suit] because we are definitely being denied our right to health care,” King said in an interview. “If we get a response that Dr. Young is not qualified for hospital privileges, we’re not taking that for an answer.”
For patients like Walsh and King, Young’s quality of care and the need for doctors in the Green Bay area outweighs his past scandals.
“He broke his code of conduct, there’s no doubt about it,” Walsh said. “But he didn’t kill somebody. He had a relationship with someone in the work place, but it was consensual and he’s revaluated his life and since moved on. I don’t think it’s something he should lose his license for.”
Need for doctors
According to Walsh and her husband Ron Walsh, who is also a councillor in Robert’s Arm, many who have been rallying in support of Young are not doing so out of a personal loyalty to the doctor, but because of a strong need for doctors in the area.
“We have a lot of support from people who are not even Young’s patients,” said Janice. “They are really on board with this because after losing [Dr. Frank Hicks], they know we really need good doctors here in rural Newfoundland.”
Dr. Hicks retired earlier this year after serving Springdale for many years, leaving Dr. Young as the lone general practitioner available to as many as 3,000 people in the Green Bay area.
“People are upset not only about Dr. Young, but that there’s been no replacement for Dr. Hicks,” said Coun. Walsh. “There should have been another doctor already brought into this community. Not only that, we got a doctor that does want to stay in the community and it seems like they’re working to drive him away.
“We feel it’s a big letdown by our government and Central Health.”
The Central Voice reached out to Central Health for information on the number of patients served by Dr. Young, and for comment on the potential class action civil suit.
In an emailed response, Central Health stated that they acknowledge and appreciate the concerns of the community around access to primary care, but it would be inappropriate to comment on any potential litigation.
In an earlier email response to a query about the status of Dr. Young’s privileges, a representative of Central Health said their Credentials Committee, made up of physician peers across Central Health, will give a fair and objective review to Young’s application.
“Dr. Young’s recent application for privileges is currently going through the process set out in the Medical Staff Bylaws,” the statement read.
“Respecting the integrity of the objective credentialing process, Central Health cannot publicly discuss details related to individual applications for privileges. The process under the Medical Staff Bylaws, and the outcome of application reviews, are clearly communicated to applying physicians.”
Seven members of the patients committee met with MHA for Baie Verte-Green Bay Brian Warr on Sunday, Aug. 12. Warr says he agrees with the patients committee, that a new doctor is needed to replace Dr. Hicks and that reinstatement of Dr. Young’s full hospital privileges should be a priority.
“We have a lot of doctors who come and go, they use Springdale as a stepping stone,” Warr said. “Given that Young is a local here in Springdale and he cares very much for his patients and health care in the region, he would certainly be an advocate for the retention of physicians in this area.”
Warr says he was made aware of the committee’s work regarding a potential civil suit against Central Health, but he did not partake in that discussion.
The Central Voice also tried to contact Dr. Young for comment but to date he has not replied.
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