As Sundridge, Strong and Joly continue the search for a general practitioner, the chair of the Sundridge and District Medical Centre Committee is proposing an online guide to help residents without a family physician.
Sundridge Coun. Steve Hicks has begun work on creating a virtual care centre that would list phone numbers for all health-related agencies spanning North Bay to Huntsville.
“It would be an online repository like a phone book that lists all health services and we can also provide the links to go to their websites,” Hicks told fellow medical centre committee members.
Once complete, the guide would be posted on the Village of Sundridge website.
He's asked the committee members to come back with suggestions for the guide at the September committee meeting with the goal of getting it posted online by the end of September.
Hicks has also asked committee members from Joly and Strong to run the idea by their respective councils in an effort to get the guide online in those two municipalities.
The members liked the idea, including Strong Coun. Marianne Stickland, who said “we need an approach for people who get frustrated and point them in the right direction.”
Hicks said putting health-related services online from North Bay to Huntsville doesn't resolve the doctor's shortage for the Sundridge area “but it could help a small number of people.”
Hicks said the completed guide will have the same look for all three municipalities.
He's also suggesting the three municipalities physically advertise on their respective websites that they are looking for a physician.
He said it's possible a health practitioner could one day be online just browsing municipal sites and would see the recruitment notice.
Hicks said there are at least two people who have expressed an interest in setting up a medical practice in the Sundridge area, but as yet the expression of interest hasn't become reality.
Sundridge, Strong and Joly have only one physician and that's Dr. Sarah MacKinnon who works out of the Sundridge and District Medical Centre.
The centre used to have two physicians until Dr. Peter Richard Zeindler closed his practice at the medical centre in July 2019.
Strong Coun. Jason Cottrell, who also sits on the medical committee, says the search for a second physician has been going on for two years and there's still no luck finding a doctor who can help ease the patient load.
Cottrell suggested considering Canada is in the middle of a federal election, perhaps the committee can ask each of the candidates running in the Parry Sound-Muskoka riding how their political party can resolve the local physician issue.
Cottrell added now is also a good time for voters in the Sundridge region to voice their concerns to the candidates over the doctor shortage.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget