Doctors hired to alleviate Kings County ER closures, family doctor wait lists

The P.E.I. government announced two new family doctors for Kings County on Wednesday.

1 doctor started this week, another coming in July

Dr. Penny Thomson, pictured with Health Minister Robert Mitchell, will take 742 people from the provincial patient registry at her practice in Montague. (Province of P.E.I.)

Two new family doctors are coming to Kings County, filling a gap that caused several emergency room closures in the past month and taking hundreds off the provincial wait list for a family doctor.

It brings the number of full-time family doctors in the county to 12, marking the first time in nearly a decade the region's physician complement has been full, the government said in a news release Wednesday.

Dr. Penny Thomson started this week at the Montague Health Centre and Dr. Craig Malone will start in Souris in July.

Full complement of doctors

Dr. André Celliers, chief of family and community medicine at Health PEI, said having a full complement of physicians in Kings County means anyone in the region who wants a primary care provider will be able to get one. He also said there will be nobody left on the provincial registry list who is looking for a family doctor.

"We are happy they are joining us, we cannot promise that there will not be closures in the future like anywhere else, but we don't anticipate anything," Celliers said. "This will certainly stabilize the emergency department shift at KCMH and I think we are very lucky to have a full complement in Kings County now."

Dr. Thomson, a graduate of the P.E.I. Family Medicine Residency Program, will be taking on the patients of Dr. David Hambly, who retired in 2015.

She will also take 742 people from the provincial patient registry. In addition to her family practice, Thomson will work in the emergency department at Kings County Memorial Hospital.

Doctor for Souris

Malone, who is still completing his residency, is committed to at least five years at the Eastern Kings Health Centre. He will take over the practice of Dr. Adriana Verdejo, who worked in Souris for just a few months in 2016.

He will also take 138 people from the provincial patient registry, and provide in-patient care at Souris Hospital.

"Our recruitment and retention team works diligently to attract physicians to both rural and urban communities, where they will stay to build their careers and provide quality care to area residents," said Health Minister Robert Mitchell.