Fertility services cancelled amid COVID-19 wave, leaving time-sensitive appointments up in the air

stephanie regular
Stephanie Regular says she waited 20 months to be seen by the fertility clinic in St. John’s. Now plans are on hold as another wave of COVID-19 sweeps across the province. (CBC)

While many medical services are being postponed across Newfoundland and Labrador as the province grapples with the latest wave of COVID-19, some patients are frustrated that they can’t receive the treatment they need. 

Thousands of cases have been reported over recent weeks, and health-care staff have been diverted from their regular roles into positions to handle increased testing and the high demand for vaccine and booster shots.   

Non-urgent surgeries and procedures are on hold, affecting many people such as Stephanie Regular, who is undergoing fertility treatments.

Regular, who is from Paradise, told CBC News on Tuesday staff at the fertility clinic in St. John’s — the only one in the province — told her things are suspended for now, and it’s tough to accept mentally. 

“Waiting and waiting, it really does have a big impact on us,” Regular said.

“By not being able to continue and have this artificial-insemination procedure this month, and maybe even next month, it just pushes our journey along even further.”

Regular said it has been a struggle to even get to this point; she said it took 20 months just to get seen at the fertility clinic.

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Eastern Health says it’s working with the physicians and staff of the fertility clinic to determine which services can continue. (CBC)

And she says not alone, and has spoken with others in similar situations.

“I totally understand the COVID-19 situation in the province right now is less than ideal, but it’s not new for us either,” she said. 

“I expect better at this point in time. I would expect that there would be protocols in place. These are very time-sensitive and important appointments for a lot of different people.

Regular said those who have cancelled appointments feel they’re not important, and the services they need are important to them.

“It’s not good enough. It’s very heartbreaking,” she said.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Eastern Health said it’s focusing on maintaining emergency services while supporting needs related to the COVID-19 response.

“As with all health-care services, the pandemic has impacted the capacity of Newfoundland and Labrador fertility services, as there have been periods when the clinic was closed,” the statement reads. 

“Eastern Health is working with the physicians and staff at the clinic to determine which fertility services can continue during this current wave of the pandemic, and patients will be contacted directly.”

Eastern Health said it will resume services as soon as it’s able to do so.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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