Several social media posts in recent months have made it clear that North Grenville has a doctor shortage. As residents both new and well-established ask the question online as to whether there is a local doctor accepting new patients, the answer from other locals is static and easily predictable – “no.” In several online posts, comments strongly suggested phoning all local doctors to be put on their waiting lists. Other comments have been more sarcastic, essentially telling those seeking a doctor to get in line. Some locals revealed that they have been on local doctors’ waiting lists for years.
When it comes to whether there is a plan to address the doctor shortage in the area, Merrickville Pharmacist, Steve Gabell, wants some answers. Writing to the Times, he said, “Obviously we are going to see an increase in demand for medical services with the new developments being built in town, as well as those patients who want to move to a more local practice.” Steve recounted how local physicians, Dr. Evans and Dr. Leonard, retired around the same time a few years ago, and were replaced by Dr. Gill. Earlier this year, Dr. Gill moved his practice to Barrhaven, causing even more difficulties, particularly for locals who don’t have easy access to transportation.
Steve noted that he sees what problems the doctor shortage has caused through his own work, saying of Dr. Gill, “Since he moved to Barrhaven, I've had lots of patients experience difficulties in getting prescriptions renewed, and the pharmacy has to plug the hole. Many people are looking for a new doctor locally, but there aren't really any that are taking a significant number of patients on.”
A search in the register of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario returned seven pages of doctors who either have a private practice in Kemptville, work at the Kemptville District Hospital, or have a secondary practice in Kemptville. However, the register does not indicate whether a doctor is accepting new patients, and indications from local residents would suggest that few, if any, of them are. An Ontario Government service called “Health Care Connect” offers the free services of a nurse, who will find a doctor close to the applicant who is accepting new patients. However, the service comes with a disclaimer that a doctor may not be found, or a doctor who is found may not be able to take on an applicant’s entire family as patients. Health Care Connect can be accessed at www.ontario.ca/page/find-family-doctor-or-nurse-practitioner#section-1, or by calling 1-800-445-1822.
For Steve, the doctor shortage issue is one that should be addressed by Council. “It would be interesting to know how many people are affected and what, if any, plans there are to attract and retain GPs in the area, and even if Council are aware of the issue,” Steve wrote.
Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times