Erie St. Clair LHIN ranks second lowest in number of family physicians per population



By Jolene Perron


“Erie St. Clair LHIN would need to add 130 family physician immediately, that’s just to get to the average, not to be the best, and we’re just shy of being the worst.”

Regional physician recruitment officer Joan Mavrinac brought an update to Essex County Council to give a report on her office’s accomplishments since being established in 2003. Her goal, she said, was to address the chronic physician shortages in Windsor-Essex and her office is responsible to support physician recruitment for all three local hospitals, community clinics, agencies and private offices.

Mavrinac explained when quoting numbers, she was quoting for the entire Erie St. Clair LHIN, however Windsor-Essex makes up two thirds of the Erie St. Clair LHIN population.

“We continue to lag at 154 physicians per 100,000 population, although we have made excellent progress,” said Mavrinac. “We are facing significant physician attrition due to pending retirements, particularly in the area of family medicine and young physicians aren’t taking on the same practice volumes of our senior physicians.”

Many of the retired physicians are reporting practices of over 3,000 patients, while newer practices opened by young physicians are anywhere from 1,500 patients, to 2,000.

When looking at the net increase of family medicine in Erie St. Clair LHIN, the number of physicians over the age of 65 has disproportionately grown due to the number of physicians delaying retirement, according to Mavrinac.

Since 2003, 45 per cent of the net increase in family medicine physicians were over the age of 65, which compares to 35 per cent for the rest of the province. One in five active family physicians are over the age of 65.

Additionally, Erie St. Clair LHIN has the second lowest number of family physicians per population of any of the 14 LHINs, with one family physician per 1,392. The Ontario average is one family physician per 1,087. The average local recruitment is about 34 doctors, while the average attrition locally is about 20 doctors, leaving the area actually gaining only 14 doctors per year.

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