New physicians welcomed, retired doctors toasted

MOVING IN, MOVING ON- (Back Row, L-R) New physicians Dr. Negine Nahiddi, Dr. Sarah LeBlanc, Dr. Laura Arul, Dr. Dane Chhatwal were welcomed to Prince Edward County while the efforts of Dr. Lois Russell and Dr. Cliff Rice were lauded Thursday evening at Parson's Brewery. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)


Thursday marked the end of one chapter and the start of another in the history of practiced medicine in Prince Edward County.

The Municipality and the Prince Edward Family Health Team formally welcome six new and recently recruited physicians to the county and toasted three doctors successfully exiting active family practice at an evening get-together at Parson’s Brewery just east of Picton.

Dr. Sara Arul, Dr. Laura Arul, Dr. Sarah LeBlanc, Dr. Negine Nahiddi, Dr. Dane Chhatwal, and Dr.Tarik Eldjama have all joined the team within the last two years and are now practicing medicine in Prince Edward County thanks in part to a doctor recruitment initiative developed between the municipality and the PEFHT.

Committee member and Community Development Director Neil Carbone explained it was the PEFHT that fist approached the County of Prince Edward a few years ago when it became apparent there would some retirements in the compliment of family doctors serving the community.

Carbone said the committee looked ahead at what retirements were coming and where the County could see recruiting new physicians from.

Council allocated $20,000 from the 2017 and 2018 municipal budget to assist the committee and the net results are impressive with half a dozen doctors coming to the island in the last 18 months.

Prince Edward County is such an attractive place for any family doctors looking to practice medicine in a rural local and really we served in a role as a concierge in terms of the county and the community,” Carbone told the Gazette.

The funds were used for showing touring doctors Prince Edward County, attending physician recruitment trade shows and helping in relocation efforts once a doctor has committed to this community.

Unlike other communities, this area does not need to offer signing bonuses or other incentives when it comes to attracting new and needed physicians.

The county sells itself and the nature of the practice family doctors can have is very appealing. There’s a really nice diversity in terms of the practice, the doctors get to work with an outstanding PEFHT that’s been recognized by the province and there’s new hospital coming,” Carbone added.

The partners are in the process of streamlining the recruitment process but have already undertaken marketing initiatives such as attending career fairs at Queen’s University and other

institutions as well as the creation of a webpage on The County’s website (

As inquiries from potential recruits are received by the PEFHT, they are invited to visit The County for a tour of the medical facilities, meet with doctors, and speak with the Community Development Department to understand the benefits of working and living in The County.

The efforts are also expected to help those without a family doctor and people in that situation can contact the PEFHT to explore their options.

We are thrilled that these talented doctors have chosen to work and live in our community,” says Dianne O’Brien, Acting Mayor, County of Prince Edward. “Supporting a co-ordinated approach to physician recruitment and retention is a major component of strengthening community health care in Prince Edward County. We are pleased to see that the municipality’s support and partnership with PEFHT are yielding positive results.”

Physicians are critical for Prince Edward County residents to access primary care services as well as other health-care services across the system,” added Debbie Korzeniowski, Executive Director, PEFHT. “The community understands this and broadly supports our efforts to attract new physicians to our team. Something that appeals to new physicians is the collegiality of our existing family physicians and our team of allied health-care providers at the PEFHT who work together to support patient care. We are very fortunate to have attracted these new doctors who have taken on practices of retiring physicians and ensured these patients have seamless care.”

Among those departing doctors honoured Thursday night were Dr. Cliff Rice, Dr. Lois Russell and Dr. Kim Haigh.

Dr. Elizabeth Christie was was tasked with thanking and honouring the recent retirees and labelled them all leaders in the local medical community

They have set a wonderful example for all our new recruits on how to do it. How to be supportive of colleagues, how to take up roles, how to step back from roles and how to have fun while practicing medicine here,” Christie said. “They have been great leaders and members of the (PEFHT) and I would encourage all our new members to seek them out and talk to them about their experiences.”