Things are looking up for the Casselman Medical Centre, which has not one, but two new doctors opening practises.
Dr. Bruce Eveleigh relocated his practice from Ottawa to Casselman earlier this month, and another new doctor is going to be setting up in the village within the next few months. Office Manager Jennifer Arenas said a doctor from the United Kingdom has decided to move to Canada and practice in Casselman. Arenas said the doctor was found through one of the international recruiting firms the medical centre uses. She said the lengthy paperwork process is ongoing and did not want to name the new physician at this time, but said the plan is to have him settled and working in Casselman in the spring of 2019. The British doctor has a family who is moving to Canada with him.
Arenas said they are glad to have Dr. Eveleigh now working at the facility and added they are in discussions with one other potential new physician. In May of this year, the doctor shortage at the Casselman Medical Centre was looking serious. Then in July, clinic founder Dr. Patricia Arenas, passed away, leaving only two doctors at the facility. The addition of Dr. Eveleigh, along with a second doctor, will greatly improve the situation. Jennifer Arenas said they would like to have six doctors serving at the clinic. “It’s looking very, very positive,” she said about the new additions and possibilities for the future.
The Casselman Medical Centre has not been eligible for short-term assistance from the Ontario Ministry of Health’s Health Force Ontario agency to deal with its physician shortage due to the village’s low Rurality Index for Ontario (RIO) score. That’s the scale used by the government to determine how rural a municipality is. A municipality needs a RIO score of 40 to be eligible for Health Force Ontario assistance and Casselman’s score is 39. The reason for the score is that the small, urban municipality is surrounded by the much more rural La Nation municipality. Current Casselman Mayor Conrad Lamadeleine has written to Health Minister Christine Elliott asking for Casselman’s situation to be reconsidered.
Village Councillor Daniel Lafleur, who is acclaimed to be Casselman’s next Mayor in the October 22 municipal election said a lot of hard work must be done to attract doctors to the growing community. Council has not taken as active of a role in physician recruitment as other municipalities have. Lafleur acknowledged that some municipalities are eligible for assistance, but he also noted that the money is not always available. He said another improvement to medical services in Casselman was when the walk-in clinic next to the Pharmasave drugstore on Principale Street opened last year. Walk-in clinics aid patients as they need it but do not have doctors who keep a regular roster of patients. The Casselman Medical Centre is located next to the Jean-Coutu drugstore on Principale Street near Highway 417. It also offers radiology and laboratory services with a walk-in clinic on Saturday mornings. Lafleur said there is also the possibility of another medical office opening in Casselman, which would bring the number of clinics in the village to three. “We always need more in the area,” said Lafleur about attracting doctors to the community.