New doctor anticipated coming to town

October 27, 2015

Town Council

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Saugeen Shores will soon be getting a new doctor.

At Monday night's meeting (Oct. 26), Council approved entering into an agreement with Dr. Julie Gibb, a family physician in training who is prepared to begin practicing family medicine at the Port Elgin Medical Clinic in the fall of 2016 upon completion of her education.

Gibb has agreed to a long-term commitment of 10 years with a focus on a larger than current day standard of family practice over time.

While a newly relocating doctor normally shares medical space with another physician, given Dr. Gibb's commitment to length of time and size of practice,  new space is required.

The Dr. Earle Medical Clinic located in Port Elgin was anticipated to be expanded eventually but, with the proposed arrival of Dr. Gibbs, the expansion will now go through sooner than later and is expected to begin in the spring.

"This is a very good news story," said Vice-Deputy Mayor Diane Huber, "however by passing this By-law, we are pretty much agreeing to accelerate some capital expenditures that were not forecasted for happening in 2016.  Also, we don't have any dollar figure as to what we are talking about and I find that a little bit challenging.  I would have appreciated a little more information that set out the additional expenditures.  I don't believe the Dr. Earle Clinic is paid for yet so there is still debt.  Also, I know we have the drawings for potential expansion but we also have the Community Health group sharing the space so ... are the drawings up to date? What kind of dollars are we talking about?   I think it's wonderful that Dr. Julie Gibb is coming here but, this By-Law is setting the stage for something that is almost like pre-budget approval for work at the Dr. Earle Clinic.  I'm not opposed to it however, we have no information on the dollar amount.  I will be voting for this but I am disappointed that we are receiving no additional information specific to the timeline associated with the additional work and the additional expense."

CAO Larry Allison pointed out that it was a unique arrangement that had been put together  "fairly quickly" but that there would be packages forthcoming to Council in the next week.

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"I think the expansion at the Dr. Earle Clinic was inevitable," said Councilor Mike Myatt.  "If we don't approve then maybe Dr. Gibb doesn't come. I think that she is going to set up a 'larger than current day standard' size practice over time, is more good news ... and good news comes with a cost.  There is room to expand in the clinic."

Myatt also pointed out that 'orphan' patients who don't have a family doctor should continue to register with Healthcare Connect at 1-866-532-3161 " ... to get onto the list and off the 'orphan' list".Menage said that he couldn't agree more than another doctor is needed and it costs money.  "My question is ... shouldn't we be thinking of this as an asset that has a lifespan of 20 to 40 years out.  I would like to ask the CAO that, for every $100,000 of cost, couldn't it be broken out over say 10 years at $10,000 per year or 20 years at $5,000 on a continued debenture.  Those are numbers that we should be able to get pre-budget approval for so that we can get this doctor in place as soon as possible."

The CAO explained that although the agreement is "unconventional" and that the doctor is not able to start until the fall of 2016, a commitment could be made at this time and the work could begin in the spring.  "We are looking at the range of $200,00 to complete the work."

Council unanimously approved the motion to enter into the agreement.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015