Three of the six doctors’ positions at the Knowlton medical clinic will not be filled. Dr. William Barakett has recently retired because of health problems, Dr. Jean-Jacques Barbeau will retire on June 1st. Dr. Marie-Danielle Gendron left in 2017. In an interview with Tempo, Dr. Michel Camirand, deputy director of professional services at the Estrie CIUSSS was very clear “there are no positions available for doctors to apply to’’. Basically Dr. Camirand and his team are trying to reorganize the existing resources in the territory to meet patients’ needs.

The clinic is not free to advertise and hire doctors. The allocation of doctors in the province is a complex quota system process (PREM) and at the present time “there are no candidates in line to replace Drs. Barakett and Barbeau’’ said Camirand.

Between them the two physicians cared for more than 3700 patients. To provide timely services to these patients, Camirand intends to negotiate agreements with other doctors practicing in the area; “we have to be able to meet these patients needs without sending them to the emergency room’’ he said.

The patients’ state of health will be a primary factor in determining who will get a new doctor, where and when. “The tool to determine this is the GAMF list (Guichet d’accès à un médecin de famille), so it is of vital importance that the orphan patients of the departing doctors put their names on that list.” How long will this process take? Dr Camirand expects that by early to mid-May a system will be in place to provide timely services to the orphan clientele and “by the month of June a completely new system should be in place’’.

Efforts under way

TBL’s Mayor Richard Burcombe vowed “to do all that is necessary to ensure that the clinic continues to operate”. This includes financial assistance with the rent if needed said the mayor. Town of Brome Lake’s council adopted a resolution this month stressing the importance of providing health care locally to our aging population and the need to talk to the Minister of Health on the issue. Brome- Missisquoi MNA, cabinet minister Isabelle Charest, is also involved. “Political pressure has to be maintained on those who run the health care system’’ said Michel Lafrance, Mayor of Sutton and President of the Users’ Committee for the La Pommeraie sector. When asked whether the needs of the population can adequately be addressed with the existing resources, Mr. Lafrance thinks that will be difficult without adding some resources such as nurse practitioners in order to deal with the more routine cases.The future will be difficult especially since quite a few area doctors are about to retire and, as Mr. Lafrance puts it, “our system for assigning doctors is always reactive rather than pro-active.’’