Sundridge Medical Clinic Adds New Doctor Creates Budget Gap

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The number of residents in the small communities of Strong, Sundridge and Joly who applied to become patients of the new doctor in the area, reveals how badly the communities needed a second doctor.

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Dr Sarah MacKinnon, the only doctor at Sundridge Medical Clinic for more than two years, said that so far 640 candidate patients have come to see Dr Marion Baechler, who has started working as the new doctor of the medical center in November.

MacKinnon also told the Sundridge and District Medical Center committee that Baechler’s arrival created a budget deficit as the centre’s budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year was calculated based on a single physician on site. .

The reason for the overrun is due to the fact that additional phones and computers must now be added to the center to accommodate Baechler, in addition to other upfront costs such as oversight of electronic medical records.

MacKinnon estimates that the medical center will exceed its budget by $ 12,000 to $ 15,000 by the end of the centre’s fiscal year on March 31, 2022.

Baechler, who said she had felt welcome since arriving in the Almaguin Highlands, reinforced MacKinnon’s comments.

Baechler has been a doctor for 30 years and told the committee that during her career she started or took over a practice four times.

“I can tell you that when you have (a lot) of new patients at the same time, it takes a long time to get the medical records in a form that you can use,” she said.

The medical center had not been full for more than two years when her second doctor left.
Medical center committee chair Sundridge advisor Steve Hicks said during this time the former doctor’s practice was languishing.

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Hicks wanted to know if someone like Baechler could have stepped in and taken over the cabinet much sooner, would there still be so much work to do, to which Baechler said “it would definitely (be) much easier to get it back there?” where someone just left behind “.

The medical center committee voted to fill the budget deficit.

It also approved the hiring of additional staff for two days a week who will work at the center until the end of July 2022 to update new patient records and data.

Even though the medical center is now back to full power, Hicks suggested the committee should continue recruiting doctors.

But Hicks has no plans to hire a third full-time doctor on his staff.

Instead, he suggests a doctor who would work at the hospital part-time, or, as he said, someone who would do a “split appointment”.

“As we’ve learned over the past two and a half years, most physicians are looking for a split and not necessarily full-time commitment,” Hicks said.

Hicks added that having a split doctor on staff means full-time doctors at the center can take a break from time to time.

Hicks suggested the committee should consider continuing to attend physician recruiting fairs in the future.

A major recruiting fair is taking place in Grand Bend in late January, which Hicks said lasts two and a half days and would likely require two people to staff the Sundridge Medical Clinic booth.

However, the committee is waiting to engage in this event until there is a clearer picture whether the Omicron variant of the coronavirus will result in another lockdown.

But what Hicks suggested the committee do in the meantime is put the sign of help wanted for a doctor with a note explaining that the position is fractional.

Hicks also suggested removing the reference to a $ 25,000 signing bonus, which was the incentive included in the previous post that led Dr. Baechler to sign with the medical clinic.

Rocco Frangione is a reporter for the Local Journalism Initiative who works at the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.