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Hospital down two family doctors

Dr. Jean-Simon Deveault (left) and Dr. Jennifer Campbell (right) will be missed by many in the community, after announcing this week they’ll be leaving Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre.

For many in the community, the news that two family doctors will be departing from Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC) came as a blow this week.

“I’m scared the doctor I get assigned to won’t be the same. No one will be able to replace Dr. Campbell,” said Cissy Lawrence, who previously had a bad experience being reassigned a doctor she didn’t like before coming to Dr. Jennifer Campbell. “She’s so kind and thoughtful. You can really tell she cares about her patients. She went above and beyond for me.”

Campbell will be leaving KMHC at the end of May, and Dr. Jean-Simon Deveault will also leave the hospital at the end of June. Both are leaving for personal reasons, with Campbell leaving for Toronto due to changing family circumstances and Deveault heading to Quebec City.

Their departure will have a heavy impact on Kahnawake, with the two doctors seeing 926 patients between them – 497 patients are under care of Deveault and 429 patients see Campbell.

“I know it was a difficult decision on their part, but I told them both ‘You’re a gift, and we enjoyed you while we had you, and now we have to allow you to be a gift in other regions,’” said KMHC’s director of professional services, Dr. Rachael Eniojukan. “I trust that they’ll continue to be successful wherever they go, and I’m just trusting that we’ll receive more gifts to the community that are meant to stay in the community.”

Right now, KMHC has 13 family doctors, including Campbell and Deveault. The patients who currently see these two doctors will be reassigned to Dr. Robinson or Dr. Daradich, with additional patients reassigned to the KMHC Access Clinic. 

The Access Clinic is a multidisciplinary service that works on a needs-based basis to assist patients with chronic health conditions who are not registered to a family physician.

Eniojukan said factors such as consistency of doctors within families are taken into consideration when reassigning patients.

“We try to keep families together as much as we can. It’s not always guaranteed, but we also consider the vulnerability of the patients,” she said. 

“We will ensure that physicians are able to meet the needs of their whole caseload.”

Reassignments of patients will happen via a Regie de l’assurance maladie du Quebec (RAMQ) process, and patients can expect to receive a letter from RAMQ with details of their new physician. For patients who are being reassigned to the Access Clinic, a letter will be sent directly from KMHC with further details. Eniojukan said these processes are currently underway, and patients can expect updates in the coming months as the doctors wrap up their time at the hospital. 

Many patients are disappointed to be losing their local doctors and are hoping that the reassignment process will connect them with other health professionals with whom they have a similarly close bond. That includes Lori Stacey, who was reassured by the late Dr. Suzanne Jones that she would be in good hands when she was transferred to Deveault in 2021. 

“Dr. Jones said he would be a fantastic doctor, and he is an absolutely amazing doctor,” she said. “I’m so sad and sorry to hear that he’ll be leaving. What will we do without you, Dr. Deveault?”

Stacey said that Deveault has left a big impact on her and her family. 

“He’s also my dad’s doctor, and he did discover my dad had cancer in his right lung. It was taken care of, and we still have my dad,” she said. “We’re very grateful and fortunate.”

Deveault said he’s going to miss the community in Kahnawake.

“I truly enjoyed my time at KMHC and felt professionally very happy, but personal circumstances made a move to Quebec City necessary,” he said. “I thank the KMHC team and the community in general for the warm welcome received and for allowing me the privilege to care for my patients during my time here.”

Campbell also said that her patients meant a lot to her, and that the hospital itself provided extensive learning opportunities.

“Working with the Kahnawake community and KMHC team has been an absolute pleasure. I felt welcomed as a physician and was honoured to be a part of my patients’ journeys,” she said. “The staff at KMHC are phenomenal. Having access to allied health clinics and traditional medicine supported the development of holistic care plans. I felt that patients were well supported within the community, which is very special.”

Finding a doctor that you trust can be difficult, and for AnnaMae Rice, Campbell was a special person.

“From the moment I met her, I liked everything about her. She was so personable. She listened. She was able to help me. She kept in touch,” she said. “She always called when she said she would and made you feel like you mattered. She is everything a doctor should be. I will certainly miss her.”

Being reassigned, even to an equally compassionate doctor, can be stressful. Patricia Glover-Kirby said she’s apprehensive after having built up a strong rapport with Campbell, whom she was reassigned to after seeing a previous doctor in Montreal.

“She really helped with trying to understand all my medical needs and putting things into motion, so now I’m a little worried once again having to switch,” she said. “Of course, I’m just grateful to be able to get another family doctor. It’s just a matter of when and who now. And switching doctors as I now know isn’t easy.”

It’s anticipated that 84 percent of Campbell’s and Deveault’s patients will be transferred to doctors already at KMHC, and that the remaining 16 percent of patients – around 150 individuals – will receive services through the Access Clinic until a new family physician is hired.

Eniojukan said that the hospital has already begun recruitment efforts and that there is already a strong candidate moving through the replacement process.

“I can tell patients that the physicians we’re recruiting are all very similar to these doctors. They’re excellent, they’re compassionate, and we’re always looking for excellent bedside manners,” she said. “I want patients to be reassured that they will be in good hands.”

Medical reports and results will be managed via internal processes for patients currently with Campbell and Deveault. Follow-up appointments will be with their new physicians or with an Access Clinic team member, with further information to be communicated directly to patients.

evedcable@gmail.com

This article was originally published in print on May 3 in issue 33.18 of The Eastern Door.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.