North Grenville Mayor, Nancy Peckford, reached out to the Times to weigh in on the issue of a lack of local doctors in Kemptville, after Merrickville pharmacist, Steve Gabell, raised the issue recently. Steve had wondered in correspondence with the Times whether Council members in North Grenville were aware of the issue.
“I think we’re increasingly aware, especially in the last couple of years with the increased interest in North Grenville,” Mayor Peckford said. “When I moved here 10 years ago, there was actually fairly good availability at that time; but it has become much more obvious to Council that there is now a shortage across the board. There are wait lists almost everywhere now. It’s definitely something that I think we’re going to have to tackle. Clearly, the healthcare system, overall, is extremely stressed owing to COVID, and that certainly hasn’t helped matters.”
Given that there are only anecdotal reports of doctor shortages from concerned residents, the Mayor was asked whether a study should be conducted, or what other means could be used to understand the extent of the problem. She responded, “I think at this stage, in the new year, the Municipality and Council will have that opportunity to look at how we can sort of quickly discern¼ what the status is in terms of the various primary health clinics in town, so that’s obviously a first step. We are also going to get new census data from Statistics Canada¼ and they are coming out with very important demographic data. My impression is that the demographics are shifting a little bit. We have a very large population of older residents, and we have quite a large number of younger families on both ends of that spectrum, and it’s exerting pressure already.”
Mayor Peckford did not feel comfortable giving a firm answer on the method by which the Municipality might attract new doctors to the area, but she did mention that there are often province-wide approaches to doctor shortage issues, particularly because attracting a doctor to North Grenville may mean pulling them out of a different community, which will inevitably have its own underlying context. Mayor Peckford confirmed that the doctor shortage issue is one that Council plans on addressing in 2022.
In several online posts recently, comments from local residents strongly suggested phoning all local doctors to be put on their waiting lists, because of a perceived shortage of doctors in the community. Some locals revealed that they have been on local doctors’ waiting lists for years. Two area physicians – Dr. Evans and Dr. Leonard – have recently retired. Their replacement, Dr. Gill, moved his practice to Barrhaven shortly after taking over. It is not known if any doctors are planning to start a practice in North Grenville in the near future.
Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times