The Cypress Health Region and all three internal medicine team members say they have agreed on a revised on-call process to ensure that Dr. Senyo Tagboto will remain in Swift Current, following the specialist’s resignation Feb. 19 and an immediate Facebook-driven outcry urging the Cypress Health Region to address the scheduling challenges and other issues that had prompted the Internist to take such drastic action.
Discussions involving the Cypress Health Region’s current internal medicine specialist team comprised of Dr. Tagboto, Dr. Rosemary Serwadda and Dr. Tadeyo Khonje, as well as management representatives of the Health Region, have produced a schedule agreed to by all parties that will see internal medicine services available on a 24/7 basis at the Cypress Regional Hospital while ensuring that the three physicians will have a chance to get the rest they require on a regular basis.
The public outcry spurred by the imminent resignation of one doctor led to the creation of a Facebook page to rally support. The Facebook page “Keep Dr. Tagboto in Swift Current” created on Feb. 22 drew more than 400 ‘likes’ in a matter of three days and coalesced the southwest Saskatchewan community.
Comments ranging from outrage at Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health in general, to frustration over the inadequate renal dialysis services available in Swift Current in particular, eventually yielded to more moderate generalized posts urging the Health Region to take comprehensive action.
At one point, the Cypress Regional Health Authority’s Board Chair Tyler Bragg spoke in person - and at length - with the creator of the Facebook page, a patient of Tagboto’s, to explain the complex processes involved in the situation. Once this information was published on Facebook, the mood shifted from frustration to guarded hope.
Tagboto specializes in nephrology, a complex area of medicine and pediatrics surrounding the study of the acquired, systemic and genetic conditions that affect kidney function or occur as a result of impaired kidney function, including diabetes and auto-immune diseases. Tagboto also possesses an extensive knowledge of pharmacology as it relates to internal medicine.
On Feb. 26, a letter headlined “Cypress Health Region should work to keep extraordinary physician” was submitted to newspapers and online media in the region, creating even more support for Dr. Tagboto and the Facebook campaign.
“Dr. Tagboto is a world-class expert in nephrology, we all recognize that,” said Dr. Ivo Radevski, Senior Medical Officer with the Cypress Health Region, during a press conference following the Cypress Regional Health Authority’s regular board meeting held Feb. 27. “He has many publications from England as well as from the time that he’s spent here in Swift Current.
“We will be working, and we have committed to him to work with him, as well as with the Ministry of Health and the Regina nephrology group, to find a meaningful role for him to participate in the nephrology group as well as within the dialysis program.
"Part of the agreement, I’d like to reiterate, is that until we get four full-time Internal Medical specialists, Dr. Khonje, Dr. Tagboto and Dr. Serwadda committed that there’s going to be no interruption in service at the hospital."
The Cypress Health Region stated in a press release Mar. 8, that “Dr. Tagboto serves as the Clinical Chief for the Internal Medicine department at the Cypress Regional Hospital and was involved in all of the joint planning discussions over the past several months."
“We are pleased that we were able to reach a plan for the future enhancement of internal medicine specialty services for our patients,” said Radevski in the press release. “The strategies that were agreed upon will help us to ensure that our patients requiring internal medicine services will be able to access them on a consistent 24/7 basis, and that our general practitioners will continue to have an excellent team of specialists to rely upon for referrals.”
“We will be working, and we have committed to him to work with him, as well as with the Ministry of Health and the Regina nephrology group, to find a meaningful role for him to participate in the nephrology group as well as within the dialysis program.” - - Dr. Ivo Radevski, Senior Medical Officer, Cypress Health Region
There is also some optimism that Tagboto will soon have a role to play in making better use of Swift Current's dialysis unit.
Bryce Martin, Executive Director of Communications for the Cypress Health Region, explained, "Our dialysis unit is a satellite of the Regina group, and as such we operate three days a week under the direct supervision and direction and protocols from the Regina nephrology group. Normally, once it has been deemed that you need to go on dialysis, the initial treatments, until you are stable, are done in Regina. Once you are deemed to be stable, … you are sent back to Swift Current and you will continue with the dialysis here. Also, during that time, even if you receive the dialysis here, the supervision is done from Regina.
"I’m hoping that a fully qualified nephrologist - now that Dr. Tagboto is a certified nephrologist in Canada - we should be able to start having that discussion with the Ministry and with the group in Regina and see if there will be some role for him to play."
Tagboto expressed gratitude for the overwhelming community support. “My family and I appreciate the community of Swift Current, particularly the caring nature, humility and kindness of the many people who have touched us since we arrived three years ago. It has always been a privilege to be able to serve this exemplary community in a small way in return.”
Tagboto also praised Dr. Khonje for “the excellent work he has done for Internal Medicine in Swift Current over the years,” adding, “I look forward to the process of recruiting two additional internists with new skills, perspectives and experiences, who will invariably strengthen and enrich our practice, and complete our ability to offer a comprehensive and continuous service to the most needy locally.”
Radevski agreed, saying he is “looking forward to ongoing discussions with the internal medicine team to continue improving the services offered within the region.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Tagboto will be remaining as an important part of our specialist team and that this core service will be available on a routine basis,” added Radevski. “I am looking forward to working with the three current specialists and future recruitments, the Ministry of Health, and other stakeholders to offer ongoing high quality internal medicine, nephrology and other sub-specialized services to our patients in the southwest.”
Following the Feb. 27 Board meeting, during which time CEO Beth Vachon was in Regina, Martin said, “There is a set of core specialty services that all regional hospitals are expected to deliver, internal medicine being one of them.”
He indicated that the intent of the Cypress Regional Hospital is “to continue to fulfill the core services that make up a regional hospital, and the geographic location of the regional hospital lends itself to making sure that we do whatever we can to fulfill those core services so that we can play our role in the whole continuum of care that makes up the provincial health care system.”