THE area has lost its only ear, nose and throat specialist and a replacement might not be in place until sometime next year.
Dr. Ivan Jardine, who came to Terrace from South Africa in 2012, let his doctor’s licence to practice go inactive late last month, says Dr. Jaco Fourie, the Northern Health Authority’s medical director for the area.
He said Jardine got caught up in a change in the way that the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons regulating body evaluates physicians who come to Canada from another country.
Although they are first cleared to work in Canada, physicians and specialists from other countries must, after a set period of time, be evaluated in regards to Canadian qualifications.
In Jardine’s case, what had been two options, an on-site evaluation of his work or writing a comprehensive exam, was eliminated by making an exam the only method available to keep his licence active.
“After careful consideration, he decided that was not an option and basically gave up his licence,” said Fourie.
The circumstances surrounding Dr. Jardine’s situation have been known for some time, Fourie continued, giving the health authority notice to begin a search for a replacement.
With Dr. Jardine’s help, when he had made his decision known to the health authority, a potential replacement has been found who is also from South Africa and who is here this week to take a look around.
“She’s an excellent candidate and very mobile,” said Fourie of the prospects of securing the potential replacement. “We’ve been very, very lucky to get such a candidate.”
“But we are at the mercy of Immigration Canada,” he said of the required paperwork needed to clear the South African specialist if she decides to take the health authority’s employment offer. “It could be three months if all goes well and if not, four to five months.”
“There is unfortunately going to be a gap in service in the interim. We’ll be referring patients outside the area to Prince George, or to Kelowna,” Fourie continued.
Patients who had appointments booked with Dr. Jardine after Oct. 28 are being referred back to their general practitioners for new referrals elsewhere.
In a perfect world the health authority would be able to find an ENT specialist to work here temporarily but there are very, very few such specialists who take on temporary postings, Fourie said.
“All we can hope for is that the gap [in service] is mercifully short,” he said.
Jardine did request an extension of his licence until such time a replacement moved here and began work but that was turned down by the physicians and surgeons college, said Fourie.
“The college does not look at this from a resource planning perspective. They look at it from qualifications and so forth,” he said.
“There was sympathy for the situation here but in the end, they made their decision,” Fourie concluded.