December 14, 2016
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
Health care administrators and community partners need to maintain physician recruitment efforts in order to stop history from repeating itself. That was the message delivered at the Community Health Care Committee (CHCC) meeting last week as members reviewed a report prepared by the Family Health Team.
Updating the committee on the physician complement in the Red Lake district on Dec. 6 Executive Director Pat Delf told those gathered there is currently one full time position to fill with three others doctors cresting the retirement hill.
“The trouble is that you can’t hire somebody until there is a vacancy. We are always talking to the residents that come through,” said Delf noting, “as soon as we are actively hiring somebody and they are part time…we might need to have housing available and do we want to invest in that now when we currently don’t need it.”
The Family Health team currently has four full-time physicians and four part-time, which equates to six full-time positions. The current vacancy was created when Dr. Julia Molnar left the community with her husband at the end of September. Delf says the team has been recruiting to fill the vacancy for the past year.
“We do have 250 locum days to use over the next year because we have not been using them as we have been fully staffed,” she added.
CHCC Chair Dave McLeod wasted no time during the meeting bringing the discussion to recruitment as a priority.
“I think that there should be something that is more broad-based than relying on residents who come here to decide if they like or don’t like Red Lake, if we are seeing what the future may hold,” he told committee members suggesting, “do we have some students who are in medical school now? Should we be revisiting the whole issue of assisting with tuition and helping them to return here down the road? Somebody needs to be having these conversations.”
Red Lake Margaret Cochenour Memorial Hospital (RLMCMH) President and CEO Angela Bishop agreed that housing was a large factor in the recruitment process, citing Hospital House as a success in providing temporary accommodation for physicians who are new to the community. She also committed hospital staff to travel with the Family Health Team as they attend recruitment events out of the district.
Delf predicts hiring practices in the future will be geared toward sharing positions and accommodating a larger number of part-time staff.
“We are six today. We could go to four very easily and in a very short amount of time,” she added.