Two new recruits fill prescription for Wakefield, Quebec doctor shortage

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by Lucy Scholey on March 3, 2011

Wakefield, Quebec has a new part-time doctor with another full-time doctor on the way.

Dr. Pascale St. Amour will be fresh out of her family emergency residency at Laval University when she moves to town mid-July. She will start her full-time position at the doctor’s office on Riverside Drive and the Wakefield Hospital.

Dr. Tania Lemelin has already started working part-time hours. If the name looks familiar, it’s because her father is Dr. Jacques Lemelin, who worked with Wakefield Hospital pioneer Dr. Harold Geggie. A Wakefield native, Dr. Lemelin took time off from practising to raise her children and is now easing herself into work.

“We’re thrilled,” said Dr. Michelle Lajzerowicz, the director of professional services at the Wakefield doctor’s office. As the area’s doctor recruiter, she says it’s difficult to convince medical school students to work in rural communities.

“Residents are trained in the cities,” she said, where hospitals are equipped with CT scans and all the other tools. “It’s intimidating to move away from that.”

New doctors are rare in Wakefield – Dr. Pierre Anya was the last new recruit two years ago.

“We could use a lot more, especially in the emergency room,” Dr. Lajzerowicz said.

Though the exact number of Wakefield doctors is “complicated” – some work at the hospital, doctor’s office, nursing homes, in-home care or all of the above – Dr. Lajzerowicz estimates there are about 16.

The Wakefield Hospital has just three full-time doctors and four part-time doctors to treat between 70 and 110 patients each day.

There are 2,000 people on the waiting list for a doctor. Dr. Lajzerowicz said at least four or five more doctors could help free this list.

In the meantime, she said she will continue reaching out to the universities for fresh recruits and is open to new recruitment ideas.

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Twelve new specialists

A dozen new medical specialists in Outaouais is a positive thing for residents in the MRC des Collines region, said Andre Desilets, director-general of the CSSS des Collines.

“For us, it’s very good news,” he said.

Health Minister Yves Bolduc announced 237 new province-wide doctors postings Feb. 17. The Outaouais postings will provide additional services for MRC des Collines residents, although none of the postings are within the area,

“We don’t have the population base to support any of these specialists,” said Dr. Lajzerowicz.

Among the postings in the Outaouais region are two new cardiologist spots, six psychiatrists and three anesthesiologists.

For a complete list of the new postings, visit www.msss.gouv.qc.ca.