Windsor-Essex Needs 165 New Doctors

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Windsor-Essex continues to lag behind most communities in Ontario when it comes to the number of doctors serving the population.

Physician Recruitment and Retention Officer, Joan Mavrinac says since 2003, 569 doctors have opened a practice in this region. That works out to 35 physicians per year.

But Mavrinac told Essex County Council Wednesday night that the area still needs physicians in the area of family medicine, psychiatry, emergency medicine and pediatrics.

Along with that need, she told council they're facing another looming issue.

"So to get to the Ontario average, a number of physicians per 100,000 population, we need to add 165 doctors today to our existing physician group," says Mavrinac. "Compounding that, 1-in-5 of our family physicians is already over the age of 65."

She says Windsor-Essex has a lot to offer to physicians such as nice weather, wonderful housing and good schools but Mavrinac told county council that it's a challenge to recruit physicians to the area because many ask about the proposed mega-hospital.

"Where's it going to be built? When's it going to be built? Is it going to be built? You know, that's a big issue," she says. "Our hospitals are dated. We needed new hospitals two decades ago."

A new regional acute care hospital is being proposed on a section of land on County Rd. 42 and the 9th Concession but the future of that proposed site is at the centre of a dispute still before a Local Planning Appeals Tribunal.

On top of the mega-hospital issue, Mavrinac says there is also uncertainty for physicians.

"We were four years without an agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the Ministry of Health," she says. "The arbitration decision in 2018 didn't answer all of the questions and now we've had the elimination of the LHINs under the Ford Government and the emergence of the Ontario Health Team."

In February, as part of health care restructuring, the province announced it was going to phase out the Local Health Integration Networks and establish local Ontario Health Teams. The OHTs would be fiscally responsible for health care services and providers. 

The county funds Mavrinac's position with the 2019 budget for the Physician Recruitment Officer set at $153,000.

Windsor previously split the cost with the county but pulled its funding a few years ago.

County representatives are now hoping the city has a change of heart and provides funding once again.