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Physician Recruitment in Stratford

January 28, 2019

Updated: January 29, 2019

How many Family Physicians are there in Stratford?

  • A total of 28 family physicians practice in Stratford and surrounding area. This includes the City of Stratford, and the communities of Tavistock and Milverton.
    • There are two Family Health Teams (FHTs) where these physicians work; STAR and Stratford
    • STAR FHT has two locations in Stratford and one in Tavistock
    • Stratford FHT has two locations in Stratford and one in Milverton.
  • Between the two teams, they cover a total of 44,033 rostered patients. On average, each physician has a patient roster of 1,500(+/-)

How do Family Physicians practice?

  • All local physicians are part of one of the two FHTs
    • There are no physicians practicing independently
    • New physicians have no interest in stand-alone practices
  • People are "rostered" to a family physician/FHT. As a patient of that physician and FHT, the patient has access to daytime, evening and weekend care. Evening and weekend care is through an after-hours clinic.

How do people find a Family Physician?

  • If you don't have a local family physician, sign up with Health Care Connect:
  • If you need care during this wait, you need to go to your closest emergency department.
  • If you do have a family physician in another community and want one in Stratford, ask your existing physician to "de-roster" you and allow you to continue to access their services on a "fee-for-service" basis, which means they will bill OHIP for each of your visits or services.  You can then register with Health Care Connect. This gives access while you wait for a local physician.

How many people are currently on Health Care Connect for Stratford?

  • There are currently 625 patients registered and waiting for a local physician.

Is it expected that people will come off Health Care Connect for Stratford?

  • In January at least three family physicians have contacted Health Care Connect to begin adding patients to their practice.
  • In addition to the three family physicians noted above, there is a new physician starting in September 2019 who will be working with Health Care Connect to build his practice. He will be taking on approximately 1,200 patients
  • It is anticipated therefore having few, if any people registered on Health Care Connect by the Fall which means we currently have zero capacity for new family physicians.
  • Recruitment is always ongoing for replacements and we currently have plans to replace all physicians who have self-identified their retirement plans.

What are the rules governing Family Medicine recruitment?

  • The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) is focused on appropriate distribution of physician/healthcare resources and has programs in place to support this.
  • Practice models, such as we have in Stratford,require approval from the MOHLTC in order to add new physicians.
  • When communities are approved for new physicians, the MOHLTC designates them as "high needs".
  • In the South West Local Health Integration Network (SWLHIN) there are 43 communities designated, including Stratford/Tavistock.
  • Twenty new physicians per month, provincially, are eligible to join practices in areas of high physician need.

What is being done to attract physicians to Stratford & the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA)?

  • We have a designated point of contact – Laurie Roberts, HPHA Corporate Lead, Medical Staff, who focuses on recruitment and retention across the HPHA communities including; Clinton, St. Marys, Seaforth, Stratford, Mitchell, Milverton, Brussels, Bayfield and Tavistock
    • Laurie's portfolio includes family medicine recruitment for these areas, in addition to all specialties, such as; Internal Medicine; General Surgery; Psychiatry; Anaesthesia; Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Paediatrics; Emergency Medicine; Plastic Surgery; Orthopaedics; Ear, Nose and Throat; Urology; Ophthalmology; Radiology; and, Pathology.
      • This includes new physicians, and also replacement physicians (i.e. retirements).
      • Also included is locum recruitment, which covers vacations/leaves of absence (maternity/paternity). Locum recruitment is essential to support physician retention.
    • HPHA has a Credentials & Physician Resources Committee that guides planning and recruitment.
  • Recruitment/Retention initiatives include;
    • Short, medium and long-term strategies;
    • Annual participation in Discovery Week, which is a program at Western University that engages first-year medical students in life experiences (living and working) in a community;
    • Stratford General Hospital is a major teaching/training site for students & residents. All departments are involved in teaching. This training offers great exposure to our hospitals and communities;
    • Medical students, residents and locum physicians are engaged beyond their clinical responsibilities, through social and educational opportunities;
    • Staying connected to local students studying medicine.  We want to encourage them to return home!
    • Attending provincial and national conferences and job recruitment fairs;
    • Development of a Physician Wellness Program and Physician Social Committee;
    • Providing local educational opportunities that are accredited by the Physician Colleges.  This allows physicians to obtain their required annual continuing medication education, without having to leave the community.
    • HealthForceOntario (HFO);
      • HFOJobs is a provincial job portal advertised to residents at all Ontario medical schools. HFOJobs is the preferred recruitment website for physicians training and practicing outside of Ontario

Have our recruitment efforts been successful?

  • Yes!   
    • In 2017-18 we recruited eight family physicians; four in Stratford/Tavistock, two in Clinton, one in Seaforth and one in St Marys.
    • In 2017-18 we recruited 16 specialists to Stratford General Hospital.
    • In 2017-18 we had 116 locum physicians who had exposure to our communities, covering leaves of absence and vacations. This is often the first step in the recruitment process. Sixteen of these were family physician locums in Stratford.
  • We are always recruiting and currently have all needs identified and either filled or strong candidates under consideration.

Do we need a local Walk-In Clinic?

  • We believe Stratford does not need a Walk-In Clinic.
  • Walk-in Clinics are "stand-alone" with no connection to the local healthcare system.  Lab and imaging results are not accessible to other providers involved in the circle of care.
  • A stand-alone Walk-in Clinic will negatively affect the recruitment and retention of local family physicians.
  • Walk-In Clinics set up as "businesses" when there is a justifiable need.  The number of unattached patients in Stratford does not warrant clinic, this is a good thing.
  • "Rostered" patients who chose Walk-In Clinic access penalize their family physician.
  • HPHA's Emergency Departments are available 24/7 for people in need of immediate care.

What can the City of Stratford do to assist with physician recruitment?

  • Support of local healthcare by the City of Stratford is phenomenal!
    • Ongoing technology and facility investment - i.e. MRI, redevelopment of hospital, is very important for recruitment and retention of all physicians and is appreciated beyond words.
    • Encourage the public to utilize Health Care Connect so we understand the real numbers.
    • Spousal employment and child care can be challenging. Physicians often have professional spouses/partners and/or young families. Having a direct contact with the City of Stratford who could assist would be helpful.
    • HPHA is very engaged with business in the city to support physician recruitment. 
      • Local realtors participate in visits with prospective recruits
      • Restaurants play host to a variety of events and activities
      • Businesses donate products and services

How do I contact the Corporate Lead, Medical Staff?

Laurie Roberts, Corporate Lead, Medical Staff

  • 519- 272-8210 x 2426
  • laurie.roberts@hpha.ca