A shortage of doctors in the region could be partially alleviated next year, even if a new hospital is far off, the head of the region’s health agency said Tuesday.
A new ambulatory clinic in Vaudreuil due to be built next year will bring much-needed family doctors and specialists, said Richard Deschamps, the general manager of the Agence de santé et services sociaux of the Montérégie region.
The clinic will unite all the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region’s health-care services in one place, add a new family medicine unit and offices for specialists.
And the good news for parents is that there will be pediatricians and obstetricians. The agency has noted that there are only four pediatricians to serve a population of about 140,000 which has one of Quebec’s lowest average ages, and the highest birth rate.
Pediatrics and obstetrics are among 15 specialties housed in the new ambulatory clinic, which will also have internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, urology, orthopedics, geriatrics, nephrology (kidney), general surgery, radiology, dermatology, pneumology (lungs), sports medicine and otolaryngology, also known as ears, nose and throat doctors.
The agency went to tender in September asking for a building to house the clinic on 82,500 square feet of space for a period of 10 years, somewhere on De La Gare Blvd. in Vaudreuil-Dorion.
Deschamps said the Quebec government was given an analysis last month on the tender process, so that it can choose a building.
“We’re just need a letter from the health ministry so we can sign a lease,” he said.
Ariane Lareau, a spokesperson for Health Minister Réjean Hébert, said she expects that letter will come soon, saying the clinic will open by 2014.
Michel Lapointe, the general manager of the Centre de santé et de services sociaux for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, said he is working with universities to bring specialists to the clinic. He said he doesn’t think it will be difficult to attract doctors to the region.
Deschamps said the clinic will alleviate some of the headaches felt by area residents who must travel to Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, to the West Island or even to Ontario to receive health care services. But he said a new hospital, promised for 2018, is also desperately needed.
Figures from the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec, show the province is paying 90.5 per cent more than it did in the year 2000 for patients from this province to get treatment at the Hawkesbury and District Hospital. In that time, visits by Quebecers to the Hawkesbury hospital increased 50.6 per cent, from 5,882 visits to 8,860, costing the Quebec health ministry $1.3 million, up from $690,594.
Overall in the last 11 years, 31.4 per cent more Quebecers sought treatment in Ontario hospitals, rising from 96,366 in 2000 to 126,640 in 2011. In that time, the amount that the Quebec health ministry paid to those hospitals jumped 74.7 per cent, from $17.1 million to $29.8 million. The highest increase was to doctors’ offices outside of hospitals.
The agency noted that about 10 per cent of the 38,000 emergency room visits by residents of the region in 2009 were made to the Hawkesbury hospital.
At the Lakeshore General Hospital, about 18.5 per cent of all patients in the Emergency Room last year were from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region, and 20 per cent of all patients in all departments of the hospital.