Councillors deny hospital $50,000 for doctor recruitment

By David Judd

NORFOLK General Hospital will continue to recruit new doctors despite county councillors’ decision not to help out with $50,000 this year.
Between 2007 and 2015, county council gave more than $325,000 toward the hospital’s successful campaigns to attract new doctors to NGH and to local medical offices.
But the county stopped donating for doctor recruitment last year as council committed to helping NGH with a bigger project.
Council promised to give $5 million over 10 years to help the hospital’s $13-million renovation project.
Last Tuesday, councillors confirmed a similar approach for 2017.
The bottom line: The county has set aside $500,000 as this year’s instalment on its promise to give $5 million for hospital renovations.
Meanwhile, the county is refusing the hospital’s request for $50,000 to aid doctor recruitment.
Hospital CEO Kelly Isfan respects council’s decision, she told The Maple Leaf in an e-mail.
“We are grateful to have had a successful partnership with the county, and will continue to do our work to attract qualified medical professionals to meet the needs of our community,” Ms. Isfan wrote.
“NGH will continue physician recruitment. Our work is ongoing and does not stop.”
The hospital will continue to host Rural Medicine Week for medical students and will continue to take part in medical school recruitment tours.
“These are costly but necessary activities,” Ms. Isfan wrote.
“Our focus is on building relationships with prospective physicians, as well as the reputation of Norfolk County and Norfolk General Hospital with medical schools and the Rural Ontario Medical Program.”
Ms. Isfan noted that new family doctors will be needed to replace existing doctors who are looking at retirement.
Some current doctors have large practices that will need more than one new doctor to handle.
NGH also is recruiting for medical specialists, including one new internal medicine doctor who is needed now.
Mayor Charlie Luke led councillors last Tuesday in refusing the hospital’s request for $50,000 to help recruit doctors this year.
He pointed out that in the last 10 years the county has spent or committed more than $5.7 million to support local medical service.
The mayor’s figures included $5 million promised for NGH renovations, $337,500 spent for doctor recruitment, and donations of $250,000 to support expansion of Delhi’s medical centre and $150,000 for the Port Dover medical centre.
The county is not required to help medical facilities, Mayor Luke said.
This year’s $500,000 for hospital renovations is “most generous on behalf of the citizens of the county,” he said.
Norfolk General Hospital’s Building a Better Hospital Campaign has raised $8 million toward its $13-million goal to update the hospital’s birthing and surgical day care units and to renovate a minimally invasive operating room.
Without Norfolk’s $5-million commitment, the campaign wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is now, Charlotteville Coun. Jim Oliver said.
Mayor Luke said the county currently is in better shape for doctors than in previous years.
He said both Norfolk General and Delhi’s medical centre have full complements of doctors.
Port Dover has two new doctors and more doctors are on the way.
There appears not to be as great a need for new doctors as there was in the past, Port Dover Coun. John Wells said in an interview.
“There appears to be sufficient doctors to serve the needs of communities,” he said.
He called this year’s $500,000 pledge to Norfolk General Hospital “a healthy contribution.”

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