Council agrees to provide funds towards physician recruitment partnership

GORDON/BARRIE ISLAND—Add another municipality onto the list of those who are part of a partnership program doing what it can to help recruit physicians to the Manitoulin and North Shore area. Since its inception over a year ago the physician recruitment program has proven to be successful in getting full-time doctors and locums into the area.

Lee Hayden, reeve of Gordon/Barrie Island, told the Recorder after a council meeting last week, “at our meeting council decided to participate in the physician recruitment program. We have agreed to donate $2,500 to the physician recruitment and retention initiative for Manitoulin Island and the North Shore.”

“This is great news,” stated Derek Graham, chief executive officer of the Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) concerning Gordon/Barrie Island’s decision. “A couple of years ago the Manitoulin Physician Recruitment sub-committee formed an Island stakeholder group, to work on physician recruitment. As you know we have multiple sites on the Island that need physicians, the three family health teams on the Island, the Gore Bay Medical Centre clinic, two MHC sites, and Noojmowin Health Centre, all require physicians to rotate in and out as needed.”

“So we formed a co-op with different municipalities and organizations pooling dollars into the physician recruitment program,” said Mr. Graham. “We partnered with the Blind-River North Shore group “Huron-North” and hired a physician recruiter. This person works on behalf of our sites on the Island, Blind River Hospital and the Matthews Memorial Hospital on St. Joseph’s Island, and with Thessalon. Our recruiter works on filling positions when they are needed on a short term basis, to fill in for doctors who take vacation, as well as recruiting doctors on a permanent basis when needed.”

“It has been a very successful partnership, there has been a couple of full-time physicians hired on the Island and quite a number of locums,” said Mr. Graham. He pointed out the needs are ongoing and the program is on an annual basis.

“It is very good news that Gordon/Barrie Island has come on board as a partner,” said Mr. Graham, who pointed out the MHC, Township of Assiginack, NEMI, Central Manitoulin, Gore Bay, Billings, Tehkummah, Noojmowin Health Centre and the UCCM are also involved in the partnership. “What we’ve done is put together a contribution scale based on the number of physicians a community has. For instance for municipalities with one physician we are asking a minimum contribution of $3,000 (per year) and if an area has more than one physician for instance NEMI and Central Manitoulin both provide $6,000, and the MHC provides $7,000.”

“Funding was requested of municipalities for this program and we (council) got behind the eight ball by not contributing previously,” said Reeve Hayden. He noted that he had been contacted recently by Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane, who are also participants in the program, about participating. “Council understands the need for medical services in the area and the need for physician recruitment when our local doctors retire.”

“The beauty of this program is that it spreads costs out, and we have resources on hand to compete with other similar municipal-medical partnerships in Ontario. Physician recruitment is a very competitive thing in Ontario,” stated Mr. Graham.

Any deficiencies in what needs to be raised and what is, is met by the MHC, said Mr. Graham. “This program allows us to have something to compete with other places in recruiting,” he said, noting, “North Bay and Sudbury spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on this type of program.”

“We’re really thrilled and appreciative of all the support this program has received,” said Mr. Graham. “It’s definitely a group effort.”