In a break from how hospital foundation money is traditionally spent, the Prince County Hospital Foundation in Summerside, P.E.I., is offering a $20,000 recruitment bonus to doctors joining the emergency department there.
Hospital foundations typically raise money for the purchase of equipment, not for the recruitment of staff. The PCH Foundation mission statement lists the purchasing of medical equipment as its number one priority, along with advocating for the hospital. There is no mention of money going to staff.
"Times are changing," said foundation president Rick Kennedy. "We hope that it won't continue to be a need in the future, but we'll deal with it on a case-by-case basis."
The money is available for the first three doctors recruited.
'A dire problem'
The foundation will keep its implicit promise to use donor funding for equipment by using other sources of income, such as investment returns, to cover the recruitment costs, said Kennedy.
"We were approached by the administration at the hospital, and really, a dire problem was recognized," he said.
"Our emergency department has been understaffed for some time now, and they made the request that we do this."
The PCH currently has 5.6 full-time doctors for the emergency department. The full complement is 11.
Plus $80K from Health P.E.I.
The $20,000 commitment is in addition to an extra incentive being offered by Health P.E.I. for doctors to locate in Summerside.
Its recruitment bonus for Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital is $40,000 per doctor for a three-year commitment. For the Prince County Hospital, the offer from Health P.E.I. is $80,000 per doctor for a four-year commitment.
The foundation is being forced to respond to a worldwide competition for doctors, said Kennedy.
A $40,000 recruitment bonus is considered to be at the low end of the recruiting scale, he said.
The $80,000 moved the PCH closer to the top, and the additional $20,000 moves the hospital to the top echelon, he said.