SOUTH DUNDAS & SOUTH STORMONT — Two local municipalities have launched a survey of residents about their current family physician arrangement and whether they lack a doctor altogether — as part of an effort to lure new ones to the area.
South Stormont and South Dundas’s joint Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee is spearheading the online survey (access it here), recently hiring a consultant with experience in the field to oversee the process.
Along with support from St. Lawrence Medical Clinic staff, the committee has obtained the services of Gwen Devereaux, president of Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health. Devereaux was profiled by CBC Canada for her successes in recruiting over 20 new physicians in Goderich, Ontario, which has a population a little over 7,500 residents — substantially less than either South Stormont or South Dundas.
Acknowledging that physician recruitment is a challenge for rural communities across Canada, the involved municipalities say that fact “has not dampened the spirits” of the committee.
Both South Dundas and South Stormont host St. Lawrence Medical Clinic doctors’ practices — which have experienced a number of retirements and departures in recent years.
“We need the medical community to understand what we have known for some time in SDG: that we have a need for physicians to serve our communities,” said South Stormont Mayor Bryan McGillis in a joint press release. “The data collected in this survey will be used to present a viable business case to physicians and medical practitioners looking to establish, expand or relocate their medical practice to a great community with a demonstrated need.”
Devereaux has expressed excitement at beginning her efforts in the region. “South Stormont and South Dundas are beautiful communities. I am delighted to work with this region, and I am looking forward to a great deal of success in physician recruitment,” said the consultant, who has already met with many community members.
She encourages anyone wishing to speak with her to contact their municipal office to fill out the online survey.
“We are fully engaged in attracting new medical talent to our region, and now more than ever we recognize the importance of all our hardworking medical professionals,” said South Dundas Mayor Steven Byvelds, adding that with the help of Devereux, “we can show how our community will support new and existing physicians and their families just as much as they support us.”
The Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee was set up in May 2019. The neighbouring municipalities have previously found common cause on other projects, including a joint branding exercise that dubbed South Stormont and South Dundas as the “Upper Canada Region.”