Time for action

Dear editor:
The decision of town council to support the efforts to improve the doctor crisis may be the single issue that defines this council’s legacy. It is unfortunate that the support was not unanimous.
The well-being of our community is based as much on the health of our local medical community as it is on the continuing operation of the Abitibi mills in town.
Some questions I have are:
If we are not at the brink of disaster, how bad does it have to get before we try to turn things around and hope that the last-minute effort succeeds?
How tolerant will we be if conditions continue to worsen? Do we wait until we need to go to the doctor and find out that the doctors are booked three or more months down the road?
Do we wait until the emergency ward hours are reduced or cut because of lack of physician time? How close have we been, or are we, to that reality?
Not everybody in the district enjoys 24-hour emergency care in their hospitals. Will we need to travel to International Falls for emergency care and hope that we can get across the border?
How quickly will the finger-pointing and accusations begin if council’s decision to support the medical community is now repealed? Will the nay-sayers and mayor and the councillors take the brunt of the abuse?
I suspect that the backlash will be vicious and swift in coming—especially when people begin to realize it directly affects them and their family and friends.
From what I have heard and read lately, council is not giving $1 million to address the problem . . . it is a loan, a loan which will be paid back over time. We are not giving this money to the doctors—this is an investment in our own well-being.
Would it be a less bitter pill to swallow if the town had a bond issue to cover the investment? I hope that council’s commitment to the problem remains firm and undeterred.
By going to a not-for-profit operation, does that open the doors to provincial funding that a for-profit operation cannot access?
One only needs to walk down the hallway at the doctors’ clinic to realize that in the next few years, several of the doctors will leave because of retirement. Not too long after, an even greater number will be in a position to retire from the clinic.
Doctors do not “need” to come to Fort Frances nor, once here, are they required to stay. There is no shortage of villages, towns, and cities in the U.S. and the world that are in desperate need of physicians—and who would do anything to get them.
Let’s ensure the doctors we now have, and the ones who hopefully will come to Fort Frances, have the opportunity to concentrate on what they do best—taking care of the health needs of our community.
M. Kowalchuk
Fort Frances, Ont.