There has been a significant amount of discussion (and rightfully so) in the community recently concerning the future of health care in Fort Frances.
The one thing that most can agree on is that we are at, or very near, a crisis situation and something needs to be done. The shortage of doctors is not a fabrication of politicians or the medical profession. It is real—and it is provincial, national, and international in scope.
Today, practising physicians and recent graduates virtually can write their own ticket. Where they want to go. How much they will be paid. The working conditions under which they will operate (no pun intended), and what size bonus for which they will sign.
Very similar to top-notch free agents in professional sports.
The overworked doctors we presently have in this community could very easily walk away from their Fort Frances Clinic holdings investment, enter the free agency market, and sign in any of a thousand communities like ours—for a $100,000 bonus plus any colour trim on a house of their choice.
For many, many years, the doctors in this community have set up, operated, maintained, equipped, and run our local clinic out of their pockets, servicing all who came in for help.
Unfortunately, the citizens of this community and district have come to expect this model to continue irrespective of the present day climate. It cannot!
The doctors cannot! The new graduates certainly will not! The model must change immediately before the Geraldton situation becomes our reality.
We have before us an opportunity to link up with the most highly-respected, experienced, longest-serving family health team in Ontario, which will run the local clinic through a community-based, non-profit organization at virtually no cost to the taxpayers.
The $1-million interest-free loan will be paid back. Town council and the CAO already are securing ways and means to cover the lost interest from other community partners.
It’s a win-win situation.
This is our opportunity to lead the way—to get our heads out of the sand and start some forward thinking. This is our opportunity to help the local doctors who have served us so well over all these years.
This may be our only opportunity to attract new graduating doctors.
Is there an opportunity with this model and organization in place for a new building in the near future? I sincerely hope so.
But if we procrastinate now, if we hesitate now, if we wait for a new clinic, if we put this matter to further delays, we may well lose the doctors that we have—and any new graduates—to the free agency market.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft
Fort Frances, Ont.