By Rosalind Russell – Taking over the reins of the North Shore Health Network has not been easy for the new CEO, President Tim Vine.
He’s appealing to affected municipalities to call on the Ontario government to maintain and enhance their locum programs.
Vine told Blind River council that cutbacks in provincial funding to keep emergency departments open is contributing to locums unwilling to fill in temporary doctor vacancies at their facilities in Blind River, Thessalon, and Richards Landing – Matthews.
He says recently Thessalon and Blind River have had to temporarily close their emergency departments due to a doctor shortage.
He stresses the problem is only getting worse with no permanent physicians aligned with the Thessalon facility or two of their clinics, and he’s blaming the province.
Vine says a government program, which was put in place to assist rural emergency departments handle the added burden of COVID-19 has expired and the ability to pay locums competitive rates is simply not there, adding the ministry’s daily and travel stipends have gone back to three-year-old rates.
Blind River council moved a motion stating the threat of emergency closure is not acceptable to residents of Blind River and surrounding communities, which will be sent to Premier Ford and the appropriate agencies.
Photo: The board of trustees of the North Shore Health Network has appointed Tim Vine as the organization’s next President and Chief Executive Officer. He is facing several challenges including dealing with an ongoing shortage of doctors and locums. Photo by Rosalind Russell