OUTAOUAIS – The Outaouais Health Agency announced the week of August 25 that all the current General Practitioner positions in the Outaouais have been filled. “We’re ecstatic that we’re able to fill all 30 positions for doctors,” said Johanne Charette, Manager for the Regional Recruitment for Outaouais’ Health Agency. “It’s the biggest cohort in the past few years.”
Although the majority of the doctors will be settling in the CSSS Gatineau, Papineau and Collines areas, the Pontiac will be welcoming two new doctors: Dr. Louis Rivero Lopez and Dr. Josée Forget, both GPs. Lopez began servicing the Pontiac area this past July, while Forget is expected to begin practicing this winter. Emergency room service has been made a priority for the doctors at this time.
The news comes as a relief to the Pontiac area because, in recent years, the region has experienced a shortage of doctors due to difficulties in recruiting and retention, sicknesses and departures. A reduction in hours was implemented for the CLSC Mansfield-et-Pontefract Clinic from June 24 to September 2, whereby the emergency room was only open from 8am to 6:30pm. The emergency room’s operation hours were restored to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as of September 3. The addition of the two new doctors is forecasted to aid in preventing this type of service reduction in the future.
“The city tends to attract more doctors than the rural areas,” explained Richard Grimard, Director General of the CSSS Pontiac. “We need to work together with our municipalities and others to make our area more attractive to new doctors. Many of them come with families and our area offers a lot to them,” said Grimard.
The Outaouais’ special status, which is to provide health professionals with higher salaries than the rest of the province, is another one of those attractive features. The Quebec Liberal Party implemented this special status to avoid an abundance of health care professionals fleeing to Ontario. “The monetary aspect always helps,” added Charette.
Although having two new doctors comes as delightful news, “we need more because it’s a question of survival,” said Grimard, who noted that the target is to recruit 5 new doctors to the Pontiac area next year.