| Apr 05, 2007

Feature Article - April 5, 2007

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Feature Article - April 5, 2007

Verona's doctor meeting

by Inie Platenius

At the public information night about the future of the Verona Medical Clinic, Doctor Laurel Dempsey began her remarks with the following request, “Repeat after me: Doctor Dempsey is not going to retire any time soon.” You could feel crowd’s anxiety level drop as they chuckled and did the choral exercise.

About 100 people came out to hear speakers explain the current state of doctor recruitment in Ontario and to outline ways that our community can help with the process of bringing in new people in the future. Louise Day gave a heartfelt account of her early days here in the clinic with her husband Doc Day, reminding us that it was the generosity of a few farsighted villagers and the welcoming of the community at large that brought them to Verona and kept them here for 40 years.


Like the Days, Dr. Dempsey was drawn to Verona by a desire to practice in a rural setting. After many years’ experience in city hospitals and palliative care, she is enjoying her practice here very much, but she said, “I’m not going to be here forever, and I didn’t want to leave the community in any kind of crisis.” So a couple of years ago, she began quietly speaking to a few patients about the need for community involvement in recruiting. The Verona Community Association agreed to get involved, and John McDougall offered to oversee the process.

Dr. Lynn Wilson, Administrator of the five-clinic Rural Kingston Primary Care Health Network, entertained the crowd with an informative visual presentation “Tracking and Capturing Physicians” which listed the many strengths Verona already has in the quest for replacement docs. It was clear that our recent physicians have worked hard to keep the clinic and its practice up to date.

In her remarks, Dianna Bratina, Manager of Economic Development for Frontenac County, outlined the demographics of the area’s medical scene. Four of the eight doctors in county practice are over 60 – one of whom is Dr. Dempsey. All of their offices are working at capacity. And according to government doctor/patient ratio criteria, South Frontenac needs 8 additional doctors! She also listed some of the possible financial incentives that Verona could be eligible for under its “under-serviced area” designation, and offered to work with the Verona committee in its planning.

In the Q & A session following the meeting, Bruce Maitland told the group, “You’re off to a great start.” His job is to recruit and retain doctors in about 50 communities east of Toronto, and one of his pieces of advice was to not underestimate the power of personal connections. He gave the example of one community where an elderly woman mentioned to the recruiters that her sister’s doctor in B.C. was wishing he could come home to Ontario. They called the doctor up, made their pitch, and that doc now practices in their community!

The Verona Community Association has dedicated $5000 this year as a kickoff to the funding campaign, and at the end of the meeting, June Goodberry announced a challenge: she and her husband Ron are donating $250 each to the campaign and challenge others to meet or match it. Charitable receipts are available.

The meeting was a motivating beginning to the work ahead – building a plan for financial incentives, raising the money, and most importantly finding the people who best fit our community and who will practice here for many years to come.

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