Team still working on doctor shortage


A shortage of medical doctors continues to be an issue for communities across Northwestern Ontario.

Fort Frances is no exception and the local physician recruitment team, which includes Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft and Coun. Wendy Brunetta, continues to advocate to get more doctors locally.

Currently, the town is in need of three general practitioners and two general practitioner anaesthetists.

“The good news is Todd Hamilton, our recruiter, has several doctors already practising or near completion of their training interested in coming to Fort Frances,” said Coun. Wiedenhoeft during last week’s council meeting.

“He has regular contact with at least 11 doctors–a process that he must balance between keeping them updated and connected versus nagging them to death about Fort Frances,” he added.

Recruitment is a very competitive process and Fort Frances is in competition regionally, provincially, nationally, and internationally, according to Coun. Wiedenhoeft.

“Recruitment and retention continue to be a very expensive business,” he remarked.

“We are always seeking new sources of revenue to meet that challenge. Although, we spend most of our dollars on recruitment, we cannot forget about doctor retention,” added Coun. Wiedenhoeft.

New doctors generally are on a two-year bonus retainer but there are no guarantees they will stay in the community forever.

An important part of keeping them in Fort Frances is making it a place they want to stay, practise medicine and raise their families, noted Coun. Wiedenhoeft.

Hamilton will be making a presentation on the doctor shortage at the Rainy River District Municipal Association’s (RRDMA) annual general meeting next January if they can fit it into their agenda.

“Coun. (Michael) Behan is going to follow up with the RRDMA and when I get confirmation from that, then we’ll have Todd make a presentation at the regional AGM,” Coun. Wiedenhoeft noted.