January 28, 2019 – The Quinte West Physician recruitment and retention committee has again asked Brighton to become part of its team. Committee chair John Smylie and recruitment and retention co-ordinator Paula Mason appeared before council January 21st to make the same pitch the municipality rejected a year ago. The work Mason has done since then “has been absolutely incredible,” Smylie said. The response from medical students “has been almost overwhelming. I’m very, very positive that in the next three to four years we will be flushed with doctors in the community of Quinte West.”
The program “has far surpassed” expectations, Mason said. Through attendance at recruitment events across the province and leads from the community, “we have spoken to over 500 individuals who have an interest in medicine.” From that number, 60 “hot prospects” have been identified, she said. The list includes 11 practising physicians. One prospect was signed in September and will begin seeing patients when he graduates in 2021. The committee is also negotiating with two candidates which could result “in some more good news” in the next two months, Mason said.
“Brighton has had some success in recruiting physicians” but there is also the matter of retention, she said. “Our program has established a strong retention component where we’re working to ensure the physicians that are here want to stay here,” she said. “It’s important that we make them feel like they’re part of the community.” “We feel that by aligning our efforts with yours it will eliminate the need for your municipality to administer a separate volunteer committee,” Mason said. “We’d like to promote the quality of life in your prime location here in Brighton. Ultimately it would be our goal to get away from you having to cut a cheque for a financial incentive to have these doctors come to practice. We want to sell them on the lifestyle that can be provided from here.”
With funding from the municipality, the committee could expand its program and defray some of the costs of attending more recruitment career fairs, she said. The additional money would also help with developing promotional materials, conducting more in-depth community tours, and putting together local programs and events to showcase the area to medical students.
Coun. Mark Bateman said he “would like to see the private sector” match what the municipality gives, should council decide to contribute at budget time. Counc. Mary Tadman said it was developers who built a house in 2003 to help with local recruitment efforts. “Maybe they would like to build another house, who knows” she said.
Brighton is paying for an addition to be built onto its health services centre to make room for more doctors to set up practice. Construction is to begin this month. Mayor Brian Ostrander noted the municipality currently offers a $100,000 incentive for each physician it attracts to the community. Mason said Quinte West offers the same level of assistance and it is her committee’s goal to have those incentives some to an end. “It’s certainly not the first thing that I throw out on the table when I am talking to potential doctors,” she said. She tries to recruit physicians who “want to come to live in this area, because those are the doctors that are going to want to stay.” Mason said after the presentation her committee is asking for $50,000, the same amount it requested a year ago, which Quinte West and Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation each provided.