Dr. Gil Grimes leaving medical practice in western P.E.I. after 15 years

Dr. Gil Grimes has been a family doctor at Community Hospital O’Leary, but is leaving his post on Sept. 6. He appears at the right in this July 2023 photo with pharmacist Kelly Herget, centre, and RN and clinical lead Cheri Harris at left. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)
Dr. Gil Grimes has been a family doctor at Community Hospital O’Leary, but is leaving his post on Sept. 6. He appears at the right in this July 2023 photo with pharmacist Kelly Herget, centre, and RN and clinical lead Cheri Harris at left. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)

A family doctor in western Prince Edward Island is moving back to the United States to be closer to his aging parents, leaving 885 patients having to find medical care in different ways.

Dr. Gil Grimes broke the news in a Facebook post Wednesday.

"It has become apparent to me that 12 hours and 3 planes (if everything works and is on time and not delayed by weather) is too far from them to be helpful," he wrote.

"So in order to correct this problem, I am moving back to Texas to be closer to my parents and to help my brother as we try to help them navigate the aging process as gracefully as they can possibly do it."

Health P.E.I. confirmed that Grimes will close his practice on Sept. 6, after 15 years on the Island.

"All of Dr. Grimes' former patients will have immediate access to the Unaffiliated Virtual Care Program through Maple, where they will be able to request consultations with a provider at no cost," a spokesperson said in an email to CBC News.

The email added that since Grimes works in the patient medical home at the O'Leary Health Centre along with three other doctors and two nurse practitioners, the area is not being left without care.

In 2008, government officials shutdown emergency and outpatient services at Community Hospital in O'Leary.
In 2008, government officials shutdown emergency and outpatient services at Community Hospital in O'Leary.

Grimes once called the closure of the emergency department at Community Hospital O'Leary a mixed blessing since it allowed staff to focus more on rehabilitative care. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

"In 2024, West Prince has successfully recruited a nurse practitioner, a physician's assistant, and two new physicians — one who began seeing patients in March, with the second joining in September," the spokesperson said.

In the past, Grimes called Community Hospital O'Leary a success story in an otherwise challenging health-care system.

He said he regretted that O'Leary had lost its emergency room in a 2008 reorganization, but added: "The whole reason we have the palliative unit, the whole reason we can do such excellent restorative and rehabilitative care, is because we're not constantly getting pounded by the emergency department."

In his Facebook post, Grimes said he will miss the Island.

"Writing this brings tears to my eyes as I think about all the wonderful folks I have had the privilege to care for and share this life with," he said.

"While I know I will carry some of the red dirt back with me, ground into the knees of my gardening jeans, I will also carry with me so many memories of this Island that I hope it will help heal the hole in my heart that will exist as I leave a piece of it behind in these red clay roads.

"This place is special in ways I am not sure Islanders can see because they have lived with it every day for their entire life."