‘Doctor shortage bad and getting worse’
BY ANGELA BROWN
Staff Stormont- Dundas- South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell contends the province must do more to help the region attract more health professionals.
“We have one of the highest percentages of people with no doctor,” says the Conservative MPP. “The government needs to step up. The situation is bad and it is going to get worse.”
Mr. McDonell wants to make the Champlain Local Health Integration Network ( LHIN)’s incoming chief executive officer Jean-Pierre Boisclair more aware of local concerns.
“He has a tough job in front of him,” says Mr. McDonell, adding it will be a challenge for the LHIN to meet the demands of the region as a result of what he perceives as government short-sightedness in healthcare funding.
“There is a shortage of government money for healthcare,” he says.
Area health agencies have worked on a report that has been presented to the LHIN.
Mr. McDonell observes that because of a shortage of doctors, many residents are on waiting lists to see a physician, unless they resort to visiting a hospital emergency department.
Mr. McDonell adds about 12 doctors are expected to retire over the next two years in the Cornwall/SDG area. Many of them practise at Cornwall Community Hospital.
“We’re looking at a situation now where people can’t get doctors,” he says.
He also notes the number of professionals serving the area this year has increased by 1.2 per cent but the demand for service is up by 2.5 per cent.
The MPP said some graduates returned to look for work in this area, but were turned away when clinics didn’t have approval to hire any more staff.
“One clinic in town has more than 15 resumés,” says Mr. McDonell. “Two new residents are going to graduate (as doctors) and will not be allowed to work in the area and will have to leave the province.”
The MPP relates that several residents have come to his office asking for help as they cannot find a family doctor accepting new patients. Individuals can wait up to a year to be assigned a doctor. The Glengarry Nurse Practitioner- Led Clinic in Lancaster has a waiting list for individuals looking to see a health- care professional. However, the clinic has previously indicated people with an increased or urgent need for help often can be seen on the same day. The local MPP says Seaway Valley Community Health Centre also has a waiting list.