Peterborough County launches new strategy to recruit physicians and connect residents with local healthcare

Peterborough County's new healthcare needs assessment tool allows residents to register their need for a family doctor, collects information about healthcare services needed in the county, and will help recruit new physicians to the county by connecting them with patients. (Stock photo)
Peterborough County’s new healthcare needs assessment tool allows residents to register their need for a family doctor, collects information about healthcare services needed in the county, and will help recruit new physicians to the county by connecting them with patients. (Stock photo)

Peterborough County has launched an “innovative tool” in its quest to recruit more physicians to the community and help meet residents’ current and future health care needs.

On Wednesday (April 10), the county announced the introduction of its new healthcare needs assessment form.

“This innovative tool is designed to gather crucial insights directly from the residents of Peterborough County, forming the cornerstone of our strategic plan for the future of healthcare in our region,” the county said in a media release. “Every resident is encouraged to participate and have their voice heard.”

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The healthcare needs assessment form serves multiple purposes, according to the county. A primary goal is to collate information about those in need of a family physician in one document that is specifically for Peterborough County, said Lori Richey, the county’s healthcare advancement coordinator.

“We are excited that there will be one central spot to gather the names and location of Peterborough County residents who are currently without a primary care provider, or wish to secure one closer to their home,” Richey told kawarthaNOW.

“Currently, names are on various lists and an accurate snapshot of the current need does not exist. Current physicians will no longer need to keep their own list, freeing up valuable time for their front office staff.”

When a physician is looking to add patients to his or her practice, this list can be sorted by township and those located near the practice will be contacted.

In October 2023, Lori Richey was hired as the healthcare advancement coordinator for Peterborough County. She has over 28 years of experience in the healthcare sector, including with the Peterborough Family Health Team and Fairhaven long-term care home. (Photo courtesy of Lori Richey)
In October 2023, Lori Richey was hired as the healthcare advancement coordinator for Peterborough County. She has over 28 years of experience in the healthcare sector, including with the Peterborough Family Health Team and Fairhaven long-term care home. (Photo courtesy of Lori Richey)

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“This data is also critical for planning for the future and will serve as a recruitment tool to bring new physicians to the area,” Richey added. “Physicians do not get paid until they have rostered patients, and this tool will ensure that this happens in a timely, efficient manner.”

Richey said having an accurate picture of the needs will not only help with doctor recruitment but will also assist with developing the infrastructure to support the growing townships in Peterborough County.

When asked how the tool works with existing lists on which residents may already be registered, such as the provincial government’s Health Care Connect, Richey said Peterborough County residents only need to be on the new county list.

“We are working directly with the townships and the Peterborough County physicians to ensure they are aware of the list and process for people to be registered and taken off the list when the opportunity arises,” she explained.

In addition to identifying and ultimately matching residents with a physician, the county has other aspirations for the tool.

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“We are asking residents to let us know what other health and human services — such as pharmacy, social workers, physiotherapy, and blood lab — they would like to see closer to home as they currently need to travel long distances to receive,” Richey said.

“Our townships are growing, and many people are taking up permanent residence at their summer residences and we will need to plan for new infrastructure to support this growth. This input is the starting point for gathering this type of information.”

The county hopes the tool will overall facilitate the development of comprehensive health care solutions closer to home.

Peterborough County council and all eight township councils, along with the townships’ CAOs, are working together to ensure that health care for residents is a priority, Richey said.

“Through our work with the province, local physicians (and) healthcare providers, and the community health centres, we are committed to healthcare advancement in Peterborough County. This requires a strong ecosystem, strategic planning, well thought-out plans that include all divisions from planning to economic development, investment, and a lot of hard work.”

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Peterborough County Warden Bonnie Clark concurred.

“To begin the essential work of recruiting and planning for the future of primary healthcare delivery in our communities, the healthcare needs assessment form will provide a convenient and consolidated overview of where resources are needed across our county,” stated Clark in the media release.

“Our goal is for health care to be more accessible for everyone — rural or urban, young or elderly. I encourage every resident in Peterborough County to complete the healthcare needs assessment form.”

Residents can find the form online at www.ptbocounty.ca/yourhealthmatters. Those without access to the internet can call 705-930-4765.


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