More money for doctorsMonday, October 21, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
City Council approved a motion to take an additional $200,000 from the City's Hospital Reserve Fund and award that money to the Sault Ste. Marie Physician Recruitment and Retention Office, to serve as incentive payments in the ongoing campaign to attract and keep new health care professionals in our community.
A staff report to Council penned by the Commissioner of Finance and Treasurer Bill Freiburger indicates that the additional, requested $200,000 (for the period ending March 31, 2014), previous 2013 physician recruitment money in the amount of $136,070, another allotment of $464,850 (for the period ending March 31, 2014), and $312,850 in physician recruitment funding for 2014-2015 adds up to a grand total of $1,113,770 in physician recruitment incentive money.
While the additional $200,000 for the Sault Ste. Marie Physician Recruitment and Retention Office was recommended, the Commissioner of Finance's report pointed out that the City's Hospital Reserve Fund will be depleted by the end of 2014, and that Council will have to examine what level of support the City will be able to give to doctor recruitment and retention in future years.
A progress report provided to Council at its Monday meeting by the Sault Ste. Marie Physician Recruitment and Retention Office shows that a Gastroenterologist, three Psychiatrists and two Oncologists have signed on and set up practice in Sault Ste. Marie so far in 2013, whether it be in private practice, at Sault Area Hospital (SAH) or with the Algoma District Cancer Program (ADCP).
Another physician is signed and will be practicing Family Medicine at Group Health Centre (GHC) beginning in January 2014.
A contract for a Hospitalist (Family Medicine) is being worked on, with that doctor to (hopefully) start at SAH in September 2014.
An Ophthalmologist is signed and will begin practice at a yet-to-be-determined location in September 2016.
The Sault Ste. Marie Physician Recruitment and Retention Office's Christine Pagnucco, in a letter to Council, reports two Neurologists, an Ears, Nose and Throat specialist, a Geriatrician and an Anaesthetist were hosted by the Office in recent visits to the Sault.
In addition, there will soon be visits from a Respirologist, a General Internist, a Psychiatrist and a Family Medicine doctor.
Interest and enthusiasm in regard to living and working in Sault Ste. Marie remains high among Family Medicine residents currently working in the community, the Office's report states.
Pagnucco also told Council Monday that recruitment of physicians is keeping up in pace with physician retirements in Sault Ste. Marie.