Open letter regarding Doctor recruitment in the Rainy River District

Dear Minister Powowski and Minister Rickford:

The status of PhysicianRecruitment and Retention in the Rainy River District is in CRISIS. We do not use that term lightly. We have long prided ourselves on trying to make it work, but the current situation is not sustainable. Physicians are burnt out, resignation letters have been submitted and unfortunately, others arebeing written. The prospect of having to close facilities is real. The stability of healthcare in the region is at risk. The intent of this letter is first to raise awareness and then hopefully be part of real change.

All three sites – Fort Frances, Emo and Rainy River – are each facing unique challenges, but a unifying problem is lack of physicians. A huge portion of the population, including surrounding First nations, do not currently have access to Primary Care. There is NO capacity in the already stretched system to absorb these patients. Demand at all regional clinics far outweigh appointment availability. Patients are becoming understandably disgruntled. Emergency departments are busy and hospitals are more than full. With more physicians leaving, the situation will only get worse. We have local residents with no family doctor and recent diagnoses of serious medical conditions (i.e. Cancer, diabetes, or depression) and they have nowhere to go.

This is a complex problem that requires short, medium and long-term solutions. Immediate locum coverage and funding is needed so patients can be seen today. Local and newly recruited physicians need to find ways to sustain their current practices. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) needs to continue to select and train physicians who are committed to the North, ensuring a pipeline of new graduates.

The District’s physicians are united on this front. This letter is being forwarded to all Municipal, Provincial and Federal government representitives. We encourage the residents of the District to also voice their concerns to theri local Municipal, Provincial and Federal representatives.

Sincerely,

Dr. Marc Ruppenstein
Chair – Fort Frances and District Recruitment and Retention Committee
Todd Hamilton, Physician Recruiter
Dr. Melanie Halverson, President, Keffer Medicine Prof Corp.
Dr. Karim Eltawil, LaVerendrye Chief of Staff
Dr. Lucas Keffer, La Verendrye Assoc. Chief of Staff
Dr. Kim Myers, Emo Chief of Staff
Dr. Joseph Ennett, Rainy River Chief of Staff
Dr. Catherine Caron, Rainy River Chief of Staff
Dr. Vaishali Patel, ER Lad and Scheduler

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