Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
July 24, 2024
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County Docs Program Flourishing

Seven doctors are setting up practice in the County
<p>County Docs</p>
County Docs

Not only has the County Docs recruitment effort secured 7 new family physicians for PEC, the team has 6 or 7 further leads. “It is not outrageous to expect an eighth doctor this year,” Physician Recruiter Adam Hambly and Barinder Gill told the Committee of the Whole in a deputation last week.

But its very success means the $515,000 the County committed to the program is no longer enough. 

Incentives like the Return of Service grants, which pay $100,000 over five years to doctors establishing a practice here, have been all too effective.

Mr. Gill noted that the success of this program has made it a model for other municipalities, such as the City of Quinte West.

It also means that County Docs is outpacing its original funding agreement, which anticipated five physicians by 2024-5. 

“The recruiters are moving faster than the current agreement anticipated. This is a good problem to have,” said CAO Marcia Wallace. 

The County still requires another 6-8 doctors. So far, most of the new physicians have been taking over existing practices, with some taking advantage of extra financial support from the Healthcare Connect Premium to expand those  practices and roster waiting patients.

Mr. Hambly and Mr. Gill said an increase to $715,000 over five years is required to “make the team whole,” and bring it to a total of 23 positions.

The program is currently funded at $250,000 a year. The new ask dedicates an extra $140,000 per year over the next five years, for a total of $390,000 per year.

Council unanimously approved the funds. Kate MacNaughton cited phone calls and messages from constituents grateful to be included on new patient rosters. “It’s an exciting time and effort: money well spent, and very impressive results in a competitive market.” 

Council also approved the reallocation of unspent funds from the 2024 Healthcare Connect Premium to support the Return of Service incentive plan.

Councillor Bill Roberts suggested the County follow the example of Belleville and Quinte West, and establish a parallel incentive program prioritizing Nurse Practitioners. A motion directing staff to explore this option also passed.

Although Janice Maynard felt that health care is “not our core responsibility,” others disagreed. David Harrison declared his support for County Docs, saying, “healthcare is essential,” to which Roy Pennell added, “it’s more important that a lot of other things we do.”

The funding comes to Council 23 July for final approval, and is subject to the 2025 budget negotiations in December. 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 28 edition of The Picton Gazette
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