Physician task force seeks $110,000 from City to help recruit doctors

The Barrie Area Physician Recruitment Task Force (BAPR) is seeking $110,000 from the City to assist in efforts to attract doctors here, and convince those already established to stay.
Last month, the task force sent a letter to Mayor Jeff Lehman and members of council, seeking the funding to support its work in attracting and retaining physicians. Significant progress has been made, but much remains to be done, Jaclyn Bell, physician recruitment coordinator, wrote.
“Health care human resources will be a significant issue facing all residents of the area in the coming years and recruitment will be the key initiative to alleviate the hardships of the physician shortage.”
The task force’s work includes introducing potential candidates to the “catchment area,” as well as ensuring a support system is in place for physicians, and their families, who pick Barrie and area as a place to set up shop.
The City’s financial support also allows for municipal input into the task force’s efforts, writes Bell.
“As you are aware, your financial contribution allows for your representatives, currently (Ward 3 Coun.) Doug Shipley, (Ward 10 Coun.) Alex Nuttall and (economic development officer) Stephanie Schlichter, to hold a seat on the task force, which will ensure your accountability needs are met.”
Municipal support is ongoing year to year, and represents a budgeted expense.
The task force has recruited six new family physicians to the area since November 2011. More physicians can offer direct medical services to local residents, thereby decreasing the stress on hospital emergency wards and walk-in clinics, says Bell.
Additionally, 15 specialists have been brought to the area to work at the RVH in both full-time and locum positions.
“BAPR has facilitated 20 site visits in the last year helping to showcase prospective physicians our community as well as the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. It is through these site visits that physicians gain an understanding of what it would be like to live and work in our community,” Bell told City Scene Barrie.
In the Barrie area it’s estimated that about 55,000 residents don’t have access to a family physician.The region will need another 43 family doctors to help close the gap, based on a provincial roster size of 1,280 patients per doctor.
According to the Rural Ontario Medical Program, the cost of recruiting one physician is $7,800. Requests for funding from communities within the Barrie region has not changed since the task force first began requesting support, says Bell.
According to information on its website, the task force seeks to enhance and maintain physicians in Barrie, Innisfil, Oro-Medonte, Springwater, and at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre. Its goals are to develop and implement strategies to attract and retain physicians in its catchment area.
Other specialties needed locally are in: paediatrics, diagnostic imaging, psychiatry, pathology, radiation oncology, medical oncology, GPO, general medicine, cardiology, respirology, neurology, rheumatology, dermatology, geriatrics, general surgery, plastic surgery, urology, vascular surgery, obstetric (Locum) *source: RVH practice opportunities listing.

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