Province holding up doctors' Blind River transfer
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 5:36PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 8, 2019 11:20AM EST
SAULT STE. MARIE – After years of dealing with a shortage, a local clinic recently convinced two doctors to move to Blind River, however the province has been holding up the transfer.
The Huron Shores Family Health team is seven-years-old and serves 5,000 patients.
"We've been down two for a full year, but the Family Health Team has never had a full complement of six since opening in 2012," explained Dennis Guimond, Huron Shores Family Health Team.
Earlier this year, the mayor and the recruiting team thought they struck gold.
They successfully convinced two doctors from out east to move their family to Blind River and become the community's newest doctors.
"Oh, it was music to my ears, definitely. The community has been waiting for so long to have the physician recruitment at 100%," said Sally Hagman, the mayor of Blind River.
Both doctors formerly had practices in the region a couple of years ago and were anxious to return.
They were told it would take eight weeks to get the paperwork done, but on Oct. 1, their planned start day, neither had received the green light from the province.
12 weeks have now passed and only one doctor has been able to start working, with the other being told it could be another two months.
The local MPP Michael Mantha wants to know what is taking so long.
"Will the Minister fast track the process for these two physicians in Blind River and restructure the current process to meet the needs of northern Ontario communities?" he asked.
"Well, yes. As I indicated in my previous answer, I would certainly do whatever I can to work with you and to find out specifically what the problem areas are and why this isn't being moved forward very quickly," said Christine Elliot, Ontario Health Minister.
Mantha says he had a one-on-one meeting with Elliot, but she did not give him an explanation about why it's taking so long.
Officials hope this delay and the hoops they are jumping through will be a learning experience for the Ford government so other communities will not have to go through the same troubles.
David Jensen is a media relations coordinator for the Ministry of Health. He tells CTV News that the ministry has been in regular contact with the Huron Shores Family Health Team.
"The ministry has expedited the registration process of adding these two physicians to the FHO (Family Health Organization) payment model, so that both are expected to be working with the FHO by December. Physicians in FHOs receive capitation payments where they are paid a fix amount for each patient enrolled in the FHO.
It is important to note that a physician can still practise in a community while he/she awaits registration in an FHO. Physicians may choose to bill fee-for-service for services for patients seen while waiting to be registered in an FHO," said Jensen in a statement to CTV News.