Doctors looking for patients: MPP Rinaldi

Posted By VALERIE MACDONALD Northumberland

WEST NORTHUMBERLAND — A shortage of doctors in this area has come full circle with family physicians now looking for patients instead of the other way around, Northumberland-Quinte West MPP Lou Rinaldi says.

"We have turned the corner," he said.

"There is absolutely no waiting list" of people needing family doctors, Rinaldi told members of Hamilton Township council Tuesday night.

"There are doctors right here in Cobourg looking for patients" and the Port Hope Community Health Centre is returning $300,000 in provincial money because it doesn't have enough patients to hire the third doctor it was funded for, he said.

Because of this change, the local MPP said he will not lobby his government so this area continue to receive grant money as an "underserviced area". The funding was originally for communities in "dire straits," he said. That is no longer the case here.

"It would be hard to argue we should be part of the fund," he said.

"There is (still) a big scare (out there)," cautioned local doctor attraction and retention committee member Mark Lovshin, Mayor of Hamilton Township.

What happens when upcoming doctor retirements kick in? he asked.

"One doctor in Port Hope alone has (a roster of patients totalling) 3,000," Lovshin continued.

Most new doctors want only 1,500 to 2,000 patients.

Rinaldi countered he is "not saying there won't be a shortage down the road" but the predicted 5,000 orphaned patients aren't there right now. Patients who had been looking for a physician now have one, Rinaldi said.

Lovshin, however, stressed the local doctor attraction and retention committee, which brought in four family doctors last year, relies on the provincial funding to help with such things as relocation costs.

"We hoped to get money from your government for the next year or two," Lovshin said.

Rinaldi acknowledged that the funding is used as one jurisdiction competes against others to attract family doctors, but did not change his position.

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