Longtime patient heartbroken when PEI doctor announces he is closing practice

Ron Flynn from Alberton reads the letter he received informing him that his GP, Dr.  Hal McRae to close his Summerside practice on April 20.  (Susan Flynn - photo credit)

Ron Flynn from Alberton reads the letter he received informing him that his GP, Dr. Hal McRae to close his Summerside practice on April 20. (Susan Flynn – photo credit)

Ron Flynn said he was “heartbroken” when he received a letter informing him that his family doctor, Dr. Hal McRae would close his practice in Summerside, PEI.

Heartbroken, not only because Flynn and about 2,100 other PEI residents will remain without a doctor until the end of April. It’s because he thinks McRae is a friend and “a damn fine doctor.”

He has known McRae since the doctor was a boy, then nurse at O’Leary before insisting he and his wife become his first patients when he opened his practice in Summerside.

“Nobody should have to leave a job that they’re well qualified to do and love,” said Flynn, 73. “He made a decision and we have to honor his decision, but I feel like he’s being pushed there, where he doesn’t want to go.”

McRae sent his patients a Feb. 7 letter, saying he made the “very difficult and heartbreaking decision” to close his practice on April 20.

“It has become increasingly difficult to care for patients within the current system and for me it is no longer sustainable,” he said in the letter obtained by CBC.

Nancy A. Hamill/Facebook

Nancy A. Hamill/Facebook

In an email to CBC, Health PEI said it has not yet been able to recruit a family doctor for this McRae’s patients.

Caring for patients within the current system is becoming increasingly difficult. – dr Hal McRae

“Health PEI recognizes the frustration and concern and apologizes for the frustration and concern this will cause in former patients,” the email read.

McRae’s departure comes as provinces across Canada grapple with an increasingly fragile healthcare system.

McRae’s patients are expected to be among the 27,237 already on the PEI patient registry. In the meantime, they have been referred to free virtual mentoring via the Maple platform.

Emergency departments in rural areas of PEI often operate reduced hours due to a shortage of hospital staff.

Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau increased provincial health spending. PEI will receive an additional $48 million over the next year.

New Chairman of the Healthcare PEI Board

Premier Dennis King said money alone will not fix the system and the province needs to explore other ways of delivering health care.

The frustrations in the healthcare system have extended beyond doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. In December, Health PEI’s chief executive resigned, saying the system “will continue to fail” unless ongoing issues, including hiring practices, are addressed.



In January, former PEI Senator Diane Griffin was named the new CEO.

Flynn, who lives in Alberton, said he wishes there was a way to correct the healthcare system to PEI

“The system lets Dr. McRae fails, it fails every islander, it fails every patient,” he said. “It’s not that he doesn’t care, the system doesn’t care.”

CBC reached out to McRae through Health PEI but declined an interview request.

In his letter to patients, he said that while he would no longer offer “comprehensive primary care practice,” he planned to “continue to look at ways to care for islanders.”

Flynn, meanwhile, said he wasn’t sure what he and the others in the patient registry would do without a GP.

“I guess we’re praying we don’t get sick.”


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