IROQUOIS, Ontario – As of July 15, the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic will no longer utilize its Iroquois location, consolidating South Dundas medical care to the Morrisburg location.
“The medical profession in Ontario has been under strain. We are having difficulty recruiting new physicians, as are many rural areas in Ontario. At the present time, we do not have enough physicians to, nor is it economically feasible for the Clinic to, operate three facilities,” read a Clinic press release.
The Clinic also announced that it can no longer privately fund in-house laboratory services due to significant costs associated with operation and will discontinue these labs as of Sept. 2 this year. Officials are currently working with lab companies and are hopeful that laboratory services can be offered on site.
“We recognize that this is an important resource for our patients and that is why we have absorbed the significant cost associated with operating the lab…we are hopeful that laboratory services will continue to be available at our sites,” read the Clinic press release.
In light of the proposed changes, a new after-hours service will be provided by the Clinic, including urgent care appointments. More information on this service implementation will be announced as it becomes available.
Last year, Seaway News reported that Cornwall has been facing a shortage of family physicians. According to Dr. Jennifer Ingram-Crooks, who is based out of the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic, 80 per cent of her patients reside in Cornwall. Dr. Ingram-Crooks theorized that new graduates would likely be taking on larger than average rosters if they were to begin practicing in the area, as retiring local doctors typically have upwards of 2,000 patients, despite the government considering a roster approximately 1,500 patients.
Cornwall isn’t present on the Rurality Index for Ontario (RIO), which provides incentives to doctors who work in rural communities. But North Stormont, North and South Glengarry and North and South Dundas are on the list. These areas average an incentive value of approximately $80, 000 over four years.
“The Townships of South Dundas and South Stormont have agreed to assist us in physician recruitment,” read the Clinic press release. “If we are successful, Clinic services may be revised. The St. Lawrence Medical Clinic has been providing medical care to our communities for more than 50 years and we are committed to continuing this tradition.”