Health team among the few accepting patients

·2 min read

Petrolia doctors are fielding calls from Sarnia and Chatham-Kent as patients try to find a family doctor.

Over the past decade, health care advocates have voiced concern about the lack of family physicians in rural and northern Ontario. In some communities, people wait for years to have their own doctor. Recently, Enniskillen Township endorsed the call of another municipality asking the province to address the problem.

There are 1.3 million Ontarians who do not have access to a family doctor, according to 2019 data released by Statistics Canada.

Central Lambton Family Health Team Executive Director Sarah Milner says there are still many people who do not have a family physician. The clinic gets daily calls from people looking for a family doctor. Priority is given to those living in the area. The clinic often gets calls from people in Sarnia and Chatham who are looking for a family physician, says Milner.

The Central Lambton Family Health Team’ patient load has increased from 10,000 in 2012 to 18,000 currently, with the organization on track to reach 19,000, says Milner. There are 11 family physicians with no vacancies. Patients are still being accepted by two of the doctors who started with the family health team last September, Dr. Ahmed Hijazi and Dr. Paxton Moon.

It’s unusual for communities to have doctors accepting patients.

But Milner said the recruitment of doctors has been successful here because of the Petrolia Recruitment Committee and its involvement with the residency program through the Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine. Dr. Moon completed his residency training in family medicine in Petrolia, working and learning at the Central Lambton Family Health Team. This led him to decide to practice with the same team upon graduation. The practice also has a nurse practitioner, a chiropodist, social workers as well as a number of nurses who see some 200 people a day.

Blake Ellis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent