Follow-up with Dr. Bilodeau


Bonnie James
Local Journalism Initiative

When the Journal interviewed the new CISSSO president and CEO, Dr. Marc Bilodeau, on February 22 (Feb. 28 edition), there were a couple of questions that the doctor promised to follow up on. He made good on that promise and sent us the details on February 26.

First, the Journal asked the doctor if the Mansfield/Fort-Coulonge CLSC is under any threat of closure, given the closure of other busy CLSCs. Being newly appointed, he said that he wasn’t yet familiar with the particular location. Following up on Dr. Bilodeau’s behalf, CISSSO media relations advisor, Qeren Boua, told us: “We want to reassure the population that there has been no reduction of services to date [at the Mansfield CLSC]. To the contrary, we have introduced a new specialized nurse practitioners (SNP) service at the location to reinforce our care offering.” Nurse practitioners provide patient care similar to that of a family doctor.

News followed shortly after of the Mansfield CLSC’s acquisition of an ultrasound scanner for the emergency department, with a press release from CISSSO saying: “The Mansfield CLSC is proud to maintain and continue to offer quality, local services to the population of the Outaouais region.”

The second question that the doctor followed up on was regarding the status of the return of cataract surgery to the Pontiac Community Hospital (PCH): “We would like to reassure you that we take the situation seriously and our teams are currently working on a feasibility study to evaluate the technical tools and qualified human resources required to envisage the return of this care locally in this context where lack of personnel is a significant regional issue.” said Boua in a follow-up e-mail.

In the original interview, we asked Dr. Bilodeau how CISSSO is addressing recruitment issues. He emphasized a focus on working with academic institutions, including nursing schools, at both the university and college levels. He said that CISSSO is trying to help the institutions secure additional funding from the government to enable them to increase the size of their courses and train more nurses.

Dr. Bilodeau said that he believes that having more nurses do clinical rotations in the rural areas is a way to recruit them to those areas. “We are looking at decentralizing our nurses’ current clinical rotations to expose them more to the rural communities in hopes of creating interest for them to work there after.” he told us.

He also talked about the challenges of recruiting healthcare workers with competition from both Ontario and the federal government in the region. “We hope that the financial incentives in the new collective agreements that the government is now negotiating with the unions will give us some tools. And if not, we need to work on creating the best work conditions possible for our people. We need to keep them happy so that they stay.”

Finally, regarding the loss of the obstetrics unit at PCH, we asked the doctor if he would accept one of his own family members having to drive two hours to Gatineau to give birth. He replied that while “it’s not ideal… if we don’t have enough people with the right expertise locally, that creates a risk as well. If there’s a complication and there’s no surgeon that can do an emergency C section to save a baby during a complicated labour, then we have another issue to manage… driving two hours is better than not driving at all and having a complication that leads to a death.”