| Mar 15, 2007


Feature Article - March 15, 2007

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Feature Article - March 15, 2007

Verona's doctor search, Part 3byInie Platenius

“It just doesn’t seem right somehow.” That’s a comment often heard in conversations about finding money to entice doctors to practice in rural areas – especially a rural area with all that Verona has to offer. Shouldn’t doctors be delighted to settle here where we have comparatively low housing costs, excellent recreational possibilities, good schools and an easy commute to a major medical teaching university? After all, we’ve had excellent doctoring here for as long as we remember. Why can’t things just go on as before?

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There are many reasons why a community needs to become more active in finding good medical care. First of all, the entire province is short of family doctors. The reasons for this are tied to government funding policies, decisions about medical school enrolments, licensing of immigrant practitioners and the preferences of medical students – all things beyond the scope of local communities to directly change. But we can work to change the things that graduating family doctors find difficult to deal with – and many of these involve money in one way or another.

Doctors now come out school with student loan debts of $100,000 or more. Their contemporaries in the business world begin with a much smaller debt load and often begin earning a much higher wage. It isn’t helpful for us to say, “Well if you wanted to get rich, then you should have gone into business.” First of all, that doesn’t get us more doctors, but more to the point: when people choose medicine as a career, they’re opting to help people. It isn’t their intent to run a business, yet that’s what they often end up doing. Hiring nurses, nurse practitioners, secretaries and adjunct staff; managing the maze of government regulations around payment; keeping records and maintaining a physical plant are all things for which business people get good bucks, and these things have nothing to do with what family doctors want to be doing – diagnosing and treating kids and grandpas and young moms and dads. In a city, some of the business stuff is more easily dealt with by combining resources with other practioners or even hiring people who specialize in these things. In a rural setting, this is more difficult.

A committed community can help new doctors with any one or more of these factors, and many communities are already doing just that. Over this past year, the Verona Community Association has been planning with Dr. Laurel Dempsey from the Verona Medical Clinic and Dr. Lynn Wilson ,the Administrator of the Rural Kingston Primary Care Network, for the eventuality of Dr. Dempsey’s retirement. They have also spoken to many resource staff and community groups who are involved in similar searches to ours, and have formed the Verona and District Health Services Committee, to inform our community about what we have now, what we should be planning for in the future and what our community responsibilities will be over the next five years to ensure that our clinic has enough doctors. On Wednesday March 28 from 7 – 8:30 at the Lions Hall the committee will host a community gathering to discuss these issues. Speakers will include Louise Day, RN who along with husband Doctor Gordon Day was enticed to come here about 40 years ago by the work of a farsighted group of community people. Also speaking are Dr. Laurel Dempsey, who is actively recruiting doctors for a time when she will retire, Dr. Lynn Wilson, director of the Rural Kingston Primary Care Network, and Diana Bratina, manager of economic development for Frontenac County, who has studied the demographics of age and health issues which affect medical care in our area. Come out to learn what we have now in our Verona Clinic, what we should have now and will need in the years to come, and what our responsibilities will be to provide it.

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