Doctor banquet slated next week

Duane Hicks

Next week is “Physician Appreciation Week” in the Town of Fort Frances and residents are invited to take part in the celebration by attending a community appreciation banquet on Thursday, June 3 at the Memorial Sports Centre auditorium.
“We are encouraging everyone to come out. It is an informal affair, it’s a family affair,” said Andrew Hallikas, chair of the Physician Appreciation Week committee.
“We are hoping we can fill the place because, basically, there’s not a person in Fort Frances who at some time or another hasn’t required the services of their family doctor.
“So let’s get out there and show these hard-working men and women how much we appreciate what they’re doing for us in difficult economic and political times,” he added.
“We encourage the community to come out,” echoed Teresa Hazel, a member of the Fort Frances Physician Recruitment & Retention Committee who is helping with Physician Appreciation Week.
Hazel stressed the event is an informal buffet-style chicken and ribs dinner open to adults and children.
A cash bar will be available.
The evening will begin with a mix-and-mingle at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30.
Tickets, which cost $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under, are available at the Fort Frances Community Clinic, La Verendrye Hospital, Pharmasave, and Shoppers Drug Mart.
Paid tables of eight may be reserved by calling Hazel at 274-4803 or Hallikas at 274-5201.
The program will include an introduction of the family physicians in attendance, presentations to Drs. Angus Mackintosh, Brian Johnstone, and Elaine Spencer for their outstanding contributions over the years, and a presentation to physicians from the Fort Frances Physician Recruitment & Retention Committee.
Hazel noted if anyone wants to contribute written words of appreciation, or if they have a story about their family physician to share at the banquet, they can contact her at 274-4803.
Hallikas said the banquet is expected to be the “highlight of the week,” and will be a chance to recognize the importance of local physicians and the hard work they do.
“We have 11 physicians in Fort Frances, and a town this size should have about 16,” he remarked.
“We all recognize that we’re short of physicians here, but we want to express to the ones we have, as a community, how much we appreciate what they’re doing for us.
“Basically, we have 11 people doing the work of 16,” Hallikas added, noting the public sometimes may get frustrated because it’s difficult to get an appointment, but they have to understand this is not the fault of the physicians but a result of the shortage.
“We are short of physicians and the ones that are here are doing exemplary work in providing first-rate health care for our community,” Hallikas lauded.
“We, as a community, would like to show appreciation for that.”
Hallikas also noted of the 11 physicians, three of them are in their 70s and 80s—Drs. Spencer, Johnstone, and Mackintosh.
“These three, to me, are just an amazing story,” he remarked. “At a time when most people would have retired, these three physicians are still out there providing fantastic service and helping the citizens of our community.
“At that banquet, we are going to have a special presentation for those three to honour their long, long service to this community.
“We’re short at 11 doctors. If those three had retired, imagine where we would be?” added Hallikas.
The committee has invited all of the local physicians while Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. also is going to invite the physicians from Emo and Rainy River.
“It’s not confirmed how many are attending, but referring to the ones in Fort Frances, the majority of them are going to be there,” said Hallikas.
“Again, it’s very difficult to get these busy people out and we appreciate that.”
In addition to the banquet, Hallikas said the Physician Appreciation Week committee has planned individual surprises and treats for physicians throughout the week at the clinic, as well as other places where local physicians work, like the Gizhewaadiziwin Health Access Centre.
Town council also has proclaimed May 31-June 4 as “Physician Appreciation Week” in Fort Frances.