Dr. Kate Stolee, Chief of Staff with the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital, gave an overview of the on-going physician recruitment for the Smiths Falls and Perth hospitals on Monday night at council.
People who move here need a physician and sometimes the decision whether or not to move is if there’s a doctor available, Stolee said.
A physician recruitment position was funded until 2016 by the Town of Smiths Falls, the two hospitals, the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) and the Smiths Falls Hospital Foundation. Funding is now provided by the Towns of Perth and Smiths Falls, the hospitals and their Foundations in partnership with Brockville General Hospital. Carlene MacDonald is the present physician recruiter.
Recruiters look for family physicians plus specialists; MacDonald looks at qualifications, does a lot of advertising, is present at events. Medical students come from Kingston and Ottawa, and her job is to make sure they have a successful week with lots of community involvement. She also networks with other recruiters who are looking for doctors now and for the future.
Stolee said there is an average of eight inquiries per month with 10 site visits per year. When they come here, they are taken on “tours of the hospitals, visit real estate people, go to schools, attend opportunities in the community, and go to social evenings.” Stolee says a new Family Physician is coming on-line in November.
Recruiters also look for physicians who want to assist in operating rooms; they look in Brockville, Merrickville and even Ottawa. The biggest gap is in internal medicine. Recruiters are looking for two general internal specialists with possibly one more in the future.
To attract new internists, Stolee says recruiters are looking for turnkey office space. “Making turnkey operations available is a good incentive to come here,” she said.
A second recruiter has been hired on a contingency basis and it’s really “all-hands on deck trying to find a general internal medical specialist for both hospitals.”
Councillor Brennan asked for an explanation of the difference between an internist and a general practitioner. A GP, Stolee said, looks at day-to-day care of patients, patients’ kids, their parents. She does general primary care. An internist, with four or five more years education, looks at the overall picture like cardiology, lungs, BP, more complicated conditions like heart disease, angina, strokes, uncontrollable BP, MS. They have a different skill level.
An internist is the “go-to person.” She spends a lot of time in the hospital, is active in Intensive Care like intubating; she is called upon in crises. An internist brings all of the clues together.
If the Towns don’t have internists, patients have to travel to Kingston or Ottawa.
Stolee concluded the presentation asking that the Town consider “a continuation of the annual financial support for this critical role in our community.”