Mayor Peckford responds to concerns about doctor shortage

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by Brandon Mayer

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 last week. 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 waitlists 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 discern… 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 Canada… 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.

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