A lack of doctors has New Brunswickers looking across the border for care

Accessing primary health care has been a challenge for many New Brunswickers who are without a family doctor, and some are finding their best option to get the help they need is across the border.

Leonore Bailhache is one of thousands of people in New Brunswick waiting for a family doctor.

“I’ve had health issues for as long as I can remember,” says Bailhache.

While finding a family doctor is one problem, getting the proper care for a painful condition is another.

“I never really know who to call, so I go through lots of different walk-in doctors and try to see who listens to me best, which is hard and not really successful," Bailhache says.

Bailhache is being treated for endometriosis by a private clinic in Moncton, as she has found it can take years to get diagnosed. She felt she had no choice but to pay to get the help she needs.

It's a story that is all too familiar for MLA Megan Mitton of the Green Party of New Brunswick.

"Our public health care system has some major gaps. In New Brunswick, we've seen people not having access to primary care -- so family doctor, a nurse practitioner -- and in some cases, not having cases to a specialist," says Mitton in Sackville, N.B.

Gynecologist Elizabeth Randle has been working to open the first endometriosis clinic in Atlantic Canada at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, helping women who suffer from the painful condition.

“We know that the impact that endometriosis has in terms of pain, and how it can affect patient’s lives is quite variable," Randle says.

The clinic aims to provide the best care for patients using a multidisciplinary care model.

"That was really the impetus behind doing the research, to demonstrate that there was a need," says Randle.

Dr. Allana Munro, an anesthesiologist at the IWK, says while most referrals come from Nova Scotia, she also accepts them from the other Atlantic provinces.

Referrals that would help patients like Bailhache, who could benefit from this specialized clinic.

"I would definitely like to see a specialist in Nova Scotia, if I can get a referral that would be awesome," Bailhache.

The doctors involved in the endometriosis clinic at the IWK say that they have already received over 800 referrals to the clinic, which is expected to open late this summer.