Doctors expect all orphan patients to have doctors by summer’s end


By Kristen Shane


With several new and returning doctors slated to go to work at the Kincardine Community Medical Clinic over the next few months, the Kincardine Physicians Group expects all orphan patients will have a doctor by summer’s end.


That’s the word from an office update the doctors group sent to patients late last month.


“That’s huge,” says Dr. Gary Gurbin, especially given that orphan patients have been a fact of life in the Kincardine area for close to a decade.


Gurbin credits the municipality for its financial support. It gives money for doctor recruitment and it owns a locum house for doctors who come here to temporarily work the orphan clinic or fill in for doctors who are away.


“It has helped a lot to keep the numbers down in the emergency department (of the hospital), because that was (orphan patients’) only option,” says Gurbin.


Gurbin hopes to wind down the orphan clinic by fall.


There are currently between 3,000 and 5,000 people waiting for a regular family doctor to accept them, he estimates.


With the addition of Dr. Larissa Kasianik in January 2009 and the return of Dr. Mike Emond in January 2010, many patients are finally finding doctors.


Dr. Rejean Duwyn and Dr. John Engle are slated to come this summer.


“We are absolutely sure Dr. Duwyn will be here. And we’ve completed negotiations with Dr. Engle,” says Gurbin.


Engle has to jump through a few extra hoops because he’s coming from the United States.


“He’ll get his licensing with the College (of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario). They do their due diligence. At the same time, he has to apply for a work permit through (Citizenship and) Immigration,” says Peggy Zeppieri, Kincardine’s doctor recruiter.


The college is set to review Engle’s file in May, she says. Meanwhile, he has to have an immigration doctor perform a medical exam as part of the process to get his Canadian work permit.


“I don’t think there’s going to be any problem,” says Zeppieri. “He’ll get here.”


The goal is for him to start work in August.


Kincardine council is set to decide tonight (April 7) whether to sign a five-year lease agreement with Engle for use of space at the Kincardine Community Medical Clinic, and a $100,000 incentive package over five years.


Both new doctors will be working emergency shifts, says Gurbin, which should ease the pressure on others.

Half of the eight doctors currently working at the medical clinic (Dr. Lisa Scott is returning from maternity leave in April; Dr. Sheryl Spithoff has moved to Toronto) are more than 60 years old, says Gurbin.


“I would be doing a lot less…if I had more physicians here,” he says.


Zeppieri is working on that.


“Not having orphan patients is a bonus,” she says. “But then we’ve got to think further.”


Doctors retire. People move in and out of the community.


Dr. Steven Poirier is slated to settle into a family practice and emergency room shifts in the summer of 2012.


Zeppieri’s goal is to sign up another doctor this year or next.


“I’ve had a number of site visits, all positive,” she says. She’s looking to 2012 or 2013.


“We need to think that far in advance.”