| Jun 23, 2005


Feature article, June 16, 2005

Feature article June 16, 2005

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Frontenac County to seek underserviced area designation from Provinceby Jeff Green Dianna Bratina, the Manager of Economic Development for Frontenac County, is making the rounds of township Councils these days to present information she has gathered about the availability of doctors within the County. She is also seeking to be named as the primary contact for a County-wide application to the Underserviced Area Program of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care.

In presenting the results of her research to Central Frontenac Council earlier this week, Dianna Bratina pointed out that North, Central, and South Frontenac should all be eligible for the designation according to the information she has gathered from census data and some more hands on research.

Bratina said that the prescribed ratio of doctors to patients in a community, according to the Council of Faculties of Medicine, is one doctor for every 1,380 people.

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By that token, North Frontenac, with a population of about 1,800 people and zero physicians, would require 1.3 general practitioners/family physicians to satisfy the prescribed ratio.

Central Frontenac, with a population base of 4,550 residents and 1.7 doctors, would require an additional 1.6 doctors to satisfy the prescribed ratio.

Although census information indicated there are six practising physicians in South Frontenac, Bratina said in her report that she could only identify three doctors in two medical clinics. Doctor Dempsey has a practice in Verona while Doctors Raleigh and Ingo practice in Sydenham.

Based on this information, Bratina concludes that South Frontenac requires at least three, and possibly as many as six doctors to reach the prescribed ratio.

The township of Frontenac Islands is already designated as an underserviced area.

For North, South, and Central Frontenac to seek underserviced area designations on their own would require a considerable amount of work by township staff. Dianna Bratina told Council that she had been in contact with Bruce Maitland, the Ministry of Healths Community Development Officer for Southeastern Ontario, who suggested that, in order to minimise the cost of duplication and to effectively and efficiently pool all of the resources available for optimal recruiting results, a County-wide designation may be the more successful approach to take.

If the County of Frontenac is accepted into the Underserviced Area Program (UAP), which Bratina says is likely, the County will then be able to participate in several recruitment activities.

For starters, a list of UAP communities is circulated to all physicians inquiring about openings. Doctors and their spouses who wish to visit a community to assess practice opportunities may be eligible for reimbursement of travel and accommodation expenses.

Community representatives are invited to join a recruitment tour of the five Academic Health Sciences Centres in the province.

If, after one year of designation, a community has not been successful in its recruitment efforts, the community may request access to an incentive grant program. However, this program is more lucrative for physicians willing to locate in Northern Ontario, where a $40,000 grant, payable over 4 years, is available. For South Frontenac, only a $15,000 grant, payable over four years, is available.

The other funding initiative relates to physicians registered under the free tuition program, whereby new physicians can be reimbursed for tuition fees paid (up to $10,000 annually) for locating in an underserved area.

Being eligible for the Underserviced Area Program does not carry with it any guarantees, however.

There are over 140 communities that have this designation, Dianna Bratina told Central Frontenac Council, which makes for a very competitive marketplace.

Nonetheless Central Frontenac Council unanimously supported a resolution calling for the County of Frontenac to seek designation as an underserved area on their behalf, with Dianna Bratina as the designate who will carry the application process forward.

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