The new ambulatory-care clinic due to open in Vaudreuil-Dorion next year will likely become a breeding ground for new family doctors, The Gazette has learned.
The Centre de santé et des services sociaux for Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and its counterpart for the Suroît region are currently in discussions with McGill University to establish a family medicine unit – a clinic that would both treat patients and serve as a training ground for new medical residents – which would run out of the new clinic.
If the deal goes through, there could be up to 12 new family medicine residents who would be supervised by several doctors from the region. This would be a huge boost for an area with one of the most acute shortages of general practitioner doctors in the province. And when they graduate, those residents are likely to stay in the region to set up their practices, according to similar experiences in other regions.
McGill would provide the framework for teaching, and resources for family doctors. It would be up to the centres to set up a facility where family doctors can treat patients.
Howard Bergman, the chairperson of McGill’s department of family medicine, said the provincial government has asked McGill to increase the number of spots it makes available for family doctor residents from 84 to 96 for both first- and second-year residents – and Vaudreuil-Soulanges is one area where those new doctors could end up. Family medicine residents must complete at least two years of residency under the supervision of veteran doctors.
Bergman explained McGill doesn’t provide the supervising doctors – they must come from the region. It also doesn’t provide the residents, but it opens up the spots in its match program. The match program allows medical students from all over Canada to pick where they would like to study as residents. The universities that participate in the match program then place the residents in appropriate spots based on their preferences, as well as the preferences of the supervising doctors.
“We would start low and go slow,” Bergman said. “Probably with just a couple of (residents) at first.”
While Bergman wouldn’t say where the family medicine unit would be located, Sophie Boucher, a spokesperson for the CSSS Vaudreuil-Soulanges said each of the regions would get a family medicine unit. The CSSS of Vaudreuil-Soulanges has issued a call for tenders for a building that would house its future clinic. It will be located near the Vaudreuil train station in Vaudreuil-Dorion, and will open some time in 2014. Bergman hinted having a brand new facility would help attract new family doctors.
“I think that’s one of the components that this region has to offer,” he said. “There’s a whole array of projects, including the eventual hospital in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, and there will be increasing investment from the provincial government.”
Bergman said the Vaudreuil-Soulanges unit would be the fourth such teaching clinic set up by McGill. It has others in Gatineau, Châteauguay and Val d’Or.
“The vast majority of residents who graduate end up staying in the region,” Bergman said, adding that the increase in the number of family doctors has also helped attract new specialists to those regions.
Michel Lapointe, the general manager of the CSSS, said while the signs are promising, there’s a lot more work to do before the deal is completed.
“The contract isn’t signed yet,” Lapointe said. “We’re working on creating the unit.”
Lapointe said he has to be creative in figuring out how to staff the new ambulatory centre, which has promised not only family doctors, but specialists in 15 fields, including gynecology, pediatrics, and cardiology.
He explained the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region has no hospital, therefore, it can’t hire specialists to work in the region.
Physicians are allocated to different hospitals by the provincial government through physician resource plans, known as PREMs.
“Because we don’t have a hospital, I can’t have any specialists here, so they’ll have to come from another hospital,” Lapointe said. “The Hôpital du Suroît (in Valleyfield) will get additional PREMs, that they will lend to us.”