December 9, 2023

Plans for a new family health facility have been announced in Carleton Place, with the hopes of bringing new family doctors to the area.

On Thursday, the Ottawa Valley Family Health Team (OVFHT) located in Mississippi Mills announced it would be expanding its services to the communities of Carleton Place and Beckwith, a region which currently does not a family health team set up.

Currently, five family health clinics comprised of 14 local family doctors care for residents in Carleton Place and Beckwith.

The new facility, to be built on Costello Drive and open by fall 2024, will bring those 14 physicians under one roof. It is a plan OVFHT executive director Peter Hamer hopes is an enticing one for new primary care physicians.

“New physicians that come out of residency these days want group medical practices, so they’re interested in working with other physicians,” Hamer tells CTV News.

“We believe that this model is attractive to them and we’re hoping to recruit at least five to seven new physicians within the next five years approximately.”

Hamer says the OVFHT receive roughly 15 phone calls a day from people looking for a primary health care provider. He estimates there are between 3,000 to 4,000 people in the area of Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place, and Beckwith without a family doctor.

Emilie Meyers is a family physician that has been practising in Carleton Place for just over a year.

She says the prospect of moving to a rural community with limited supports is one new physicians do not want.

“When I was a resident I remember thinking to myself, do I really want to come to work here in a one or two person office and have to manage everything, and it was scary,” Meyers tells CTV News.

“That’s the whole reason why I joined in on this project, because it’s so hard as an individual to create change. When I arrived I had this idea that it would be good for the longevity of primary care in the area.”

Many municipalities across Ontario are facing a doctor shortage, with some taking the approach of offering big signing bonuses and higher salaries.

“We are not offering major incentives for doctors to come here,” Carleton Place Mayor Toby Randall said.

“We’re a small town still, but we’ve found a way by collaborating with multiple groups to ensure that health care in Carleton Place and the region is something that is going to be attainable for everybody.”

Hamer wants the new facility to be a one-stop shop for residents seeking health care, and will include pharmacy, diagnostic imaging, physiotherapy and massage therapy.

At 33-years-old, Meyers is excited at the prospect of learning from more experienced physicians who will soon be close by.

“This to me is going to be a great way to create this space where all of us can work together.”


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