A group of volunteers from the Middleton, N.S., area have decided to take recruitment efforts into their own hands as province's wait-list for a primary care physician continues to rise.
As of Jan. 1, the list had 82,678 people who said they were in need of a doctor or nurse practitioner. Of those, 6,035 are from Middleton, representing nearly 29 per cent of the area's population.
That's the largest percentage of need in the province.
"It creates anxiety," said Don Hyslop, one of the founders of the Mid-Valley Region Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee. He estimates there are seven vacancies for primary care providers in the area.
"A lot of people in our area are older… it can have an economic effect too."
Last year, Hyslop and some of his friends from the Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation's board of directors decided they were tired of topping the list for need. They formed the committee in an effort to show medical recruits the best of their communities.
Among the group was Kelly Hutton, chair of the hospital foundation.
"It's pretty bad," Hutton said. "You gotta go and sit in the emergency room for six hours to get someone to give you a prescription."
Businesses chip in
The group called on local businesses to show their support. Many were eager to jump on board.
Hyslop said someone arranged for primary care providers and their families to have free access to the fitness facilities at 14 Wing Greenwood, the nearby military air base.
"We've worked with the Rotary Club in Middleton so each physician or resident that comes to our area receives a $100 gift card for groceries or other things," Hyslop said.
They called Enterprise, and arranged a discount for all doctors in the province to rent vehicles.
"We've convinced the hospital foundation to offer $1,000 scholarships to medical students from our area who are presently becoming doctors." Hyslop said they have handed out five of those scholarships so far.
In the fall, the committee hosted a welcome party for Dr. Jerry Asiedu, a new physician, and the medical residents who are working in the area.
"We just want to show the physicians that we come across that our area is second to none as far as not only how good we welcome people, how much we welcome people, and what a great community we have in the Valley," Hysolp said.
Hutton said the event was a great success, with new and current health-care workers showing their appreciation.
"I think that really sent it home to everybody that you know what, we're doing good work," he said.
The committee has since deemed Hyslop the navigator. He's the point of contact for new primary care workers, showing them around and hosting meals at his home.
In Hutton's eyes, this is just the beginning. He wants the volunteers to eventually attend formal recruitment events.
He said it's a great opportunity to show off the region and Middleton's new collaborative health-care centre, which opened in January 2021.
"What we see is that the community is supporting our efforts," he said. "This really is all about community and that is the critical, critical part."
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