Last Minute Plea For Funding

By John Swartz

When Ramara Township council finalizes their 2019 budget April 8, deputy mayor John O’Donnell hopes council includes funding for the Orillia and Area Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee.

‘I am in big favour of it because I’m afraid if we don’t this organization may fall apart and 5 or 6 years down the road we are going to be in big trouble,” said O’Donnell.

Ramara has one doctor now, but O’Donnell says he thinks retirement may leave them with none.

“He’s full, he can’t take any more patients,” said O’Donnell.

Brechin used to have an operating medical clinic that was built by the Brechin and Area Lions Club in 1972 and donated to the municipality for that purpose.

Ramara Deputy Mayor John O'Donnell
Ramara Deputy Mayor John O’Donnell

“We had two doctors and a pharmacy in there. Now the doctors have all moved out and we have spent in excess of $50,000 renovating that to try to get new doctors in, but the way the doctors work now, they work in groups and it’s hard to get one doctor out here. We could put two doctors or even three doctors in there,” said O’Donnell.

Ramara was party to funding the recruitment committee until last year.

“The township didn’t contribute the $8,000 last year and I brought it up this year. The council has voted not to pay the $8,000 towards the doctor recruitment and retention this year, even though the doctor recruitment has signed up close to 1800 people over the last several years for doctor’s group sin Orillia.”

Pat Thor, the Community Physician Recruitment Liaison confirmed the number of Ramara residents who now have doctors thanks to recruitment efforts over the last 7 years.

“We are fortunate we are still receiving support from Oro-Medonte, Severn, Orillia and Rama and we do fundraising. Yes it’s a hit on our budget, but we continue to forge ahead. Any time we recruit a new doctor to our area the residents of Ramara benefit from that,” said Thor.

Part of the problem selling the idea of contributing to a recruitment effort may be doctors aren’t going to set up practice in Ramara, which would likely be the case, but that is more a function of how medicine is practiced these days.

“Doctors don’t practice alone anymore,” said Thor.

“Doctors practice differently than they did 25 years ago. The way they are trained now, doctors are anticipating they will be practicing in groups such as the Couchiching Family Health group, or the Orillia Family Health group. That’s what they are looking for. The idea of the old time country doctor in a small village, it’s really passé.”

“Even if there were a doctor in Brechin, the patient still has to come to Orillia for blood work. They still have to come to Orillia for x-rays. Everything won’t take place in a little village.”

O’Donnell thinks Ramara residents can make a difference by taking some action over the next week.

“I’m encouraging people to write in here because we are going to finalize our budget on the 8th of April and if the people can write saying they want our doctor’s recruitment, then council hopefully will change their mind on the 8th and put it in the budget,” said O’Donnell.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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