Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
June 14, 2024
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The Contest for Doctors

A new MOU sets ground rules to prevent poaching and double dipping
<p>Photo by Anton (Unsplash)</p>
Photo by Anton (Unsplash)

The County of Prince Edward is the fifth and final municipality in the Quinte region to sign a Memorandum of Understanding outlining how family physicians can be engaged and recruited.

The MOU supports regional physician recruitment and retention initiatives among the County, the Cities of Belleville and Quinte West, the County of Hastings, and Brighton. It provides guidance, and ground rules, on certain recruitment and retention scenarios.

The agreement came together at the HealthPULSE table. PULSE stands for Partners United in Local Solutions for Everyone and the group aims to reinvent rural health care in the region. It is a regional partnership between Hastings County, Quinte West, Belleville, Prince Edward County, Quinte Health, and Loyalist College.

The MOU acknowledges the doctor shortage in Ontario and the monetary investment individual communities must make to recruit family doctors. Recruitment is the domain of independent organizations operating within each municipality — but that’s only half the equation. The retention portion of the program helps to ensure that when a physician is recruited, they wind up staying.

At Close Range

Given the close proximity of the five different communities in the wider region, the MOU notes a newly recruited doctor might receive their incentive and complete a Return of Service agreement in one community — and then begin discussions with another community for a new incentive/Return of Service.

The MOU would negate the movement of doctors between municipalities for the purpose of earning a second Return of Service incentive. While respecting the concept that a doctor may need to make career or lifestyle changes unrelated to incentives, the parties agree that once a doctor enters into an agreement, no other municipality will offer a Return of Service incentive to that doctor during or following the completion of an agreement.

“For additional clarity, the parties also hereby agree they will not approach a physician who is currently under contract with another party. If a party becomes aware that a physician is still under contract, they will discontinue discussions with the physician until such time as they are no longer under contract with another party.”

County Docs recruiter Adam Hambly spoke in favour of the motion. He asked for Council’s support of the MOU.

“To my knowledge, the MOU is not necessarily referring to a specific situation, but serves as more of a proactive measure,” Mr. Hambly told the Gazette.

“This is one of the initiatives from conversations around the HealthPULSE table that has caused us to start thinking differently about healthcare in our community and the region,” CAO Marcia Wallace said. 

“We see this as a good opportunity and the reality is that a great many people in the region live in one municipality and work in another. It’s not just about the competition with our neighbours and we want to recognize that having a physician and their family come to this region is a benefit to everyone.”

Transit Assistance

In other HealthPULSE news, Council also approved a motion to sign an MOU with Loyalist College regarding the HealthPULSE Shuttle program. 

The agreement between Loyalist and the County starts next month. The shuttle will now transport Loyalist students to the HJ McFarland home to attend cooperative learning placements.

The hope is that by bringing students from different areas of the Quinte region and the Loyalist College residence to the County, graduates would more likely accept employment opportunities here, such as at the municipally operated long-term care home.

Councillor Sam Branderhorst wondered if the transit program couldn’t be expanded to bring Early Childhood Education diploma candidates to the HUB Child and Family Centre. “They would be driving right by the HUB if they are coming from Loyalist.”

Emily Cowan, Director of Community Services, acknowledged a host of possibilities staff and partners at Loyalist and Quinte Health were examining for future agreements. 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 18 edition of The Picton Gazette
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