Number of family doctors down in Grand Falls-Windsor

A medical clinic in Grand Falls-Windsor says they're down five GPs and the remaining doctors are not taking any new patients.
Brad Maloney, business manager of Killick Health Services, says the clinic has gone from 13 family doctors in 2010 to eight. (CBC)

Finding a family doctor in Grand Falls-Windsor is not an easy task these days. 

Five GPs are no longer in the system — and the remaining eight doctors at a local clinic are not taking on any new patients.

Brad Maloney, the business manager of Killick Health Services, says the clinic has gone from 13 doctors in 2010 to just eight.

"We're not the only clinic in town that's lost numerous physicians," said Maloney. We went from being flush, almost too many physicians in 2010, to not nearly enough now. We're just being overwhelmed with requests for family physicians."

Maloney said they set up a walk-in clinic last fall that now sees up to 70 people a day. He said something has to give.

"What really needs to happen, there has to be a collaboration between the physician community, the town itself, the local health authority and the government — and create some incentives and excitement around working in rural Newfoundland," said Maloney.

Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins said it's not recruiting doctors that's tough for small towns — it's convincing them to stay.

Hawkins said his town holds a social every few months for newcomers.

"We've had barbecues, we've had some curling, some bowling, that sort of thing. It's an opportunity for them to meet new people," said Hawkins.

Recruitment underway in central

The head of family medicine for Central Health, Dr. Jared Butler, also spearheads physician recruitment in the area. He's working hard to fill the gaps. 

"Unfortunately the way recruitment works in doctors, it's much like a draft system – you have to wait for them to come out of school," said Butler.

Butler says he has one GP on tap to arrive in the spring - with two or three more to follow by the fall. His goal is to get young doctors to set up and stay for decades — to keep turnover and gaps like this one — to a minimum.