More Cornwall ER doctors coming but public money needed

Cornwall Hospital Foundation Executive Director Amy Gillespie and Queen's University Director of Medical Education Geoff Hodgetts announce a new partnership on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. The partnership will see Cornwall Community Hospital's ER department gain four more doctors over the next three years, provided the community can raise $135,000 each year. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A new partnership between the Cornwall Hospital Foundation (CHF) and Queen’s University in Kingston will boost the number of doctors working in CCH’s emergency room.

The Cornwall Hospital Foundation is now looking to the community to help fund the plan, which comes with a $135,000 yearly price tag. The money covers salary, benefits and stipends and has to be raised by July 1.

“So our foundation, working with the public for the next three years, will actually be raising six years of cumulative care for our community,” CHF Executive Director Amy Gillespie said.

To get a head start in the first year, the Cornwall Community Hospital will be matching donor funds, which will mean two medical residents in the ER starting in July 2019.

The new doctors are fully licenced general practitioners (GPs) but are doing their medical specialty placements as part of the family medicine-emergency medicine (FM-EM) program.

“Adopt a Resident” will see the doctors from Queen’s do their six month placement in the ER at CCH. But they will also sign a two year agreement to work in the ER.

Any extra money raised in any year will go toward equipment.

Gillespie believes it’s the first type of partnership of its kind in Eastern Ontario and the second in Ontario.

Geoff Hodgetts, director of medical education at Queen’s University, called the partnership “unusual” and “unique.”

“Opportunities like this are just gold to us. Here was an opportunity looking us in the face and we jumped at it,” Hodgetts said. The university did a couple of test pilots in 2011 and Queen’s now has 30 people doing medical rotations in four disciplines in Cornwall. “That’s a pretty rapid growth. We really benefit from this.”

The first round of applicants are being reviewed with a decision expected by December.

“I would encourage the community, when these doctors come, to welcome them with open arms. Our hope is, even when our fundraising is done, and even when their contract is done, if we can welcome them to the community. We don’t just want them to stay for two years. We would love for them to build a career here,” Gillespie added.

The plan was launched just before the Christmas season, known as the season of giving. “This year people can…give the gift of a new emergency physician to the emergency department at the Cornwall Community Hospital.”