Grand River Hospital working to get more emergency physicians

Photo by Emilia Zibaei
Photo by Emilia Zibaei

Kitchener’s Grand River Hospital has launched a fundraising initiative in order to recruit more emergency department physicians to help reduce long wait times.

The goal of the campaign is to accumulate $365,000 from donations given by Waterloo Region community members.

The sum will be split into three years. Each year, a third of the money, approximately $120,000, will be put towards funding a physician resident who will train at Grand River Hospital’s (GRH) emergency department.

Tracey Bailey, president and chief executive officer of Grand River Hospital Foundation, explained that Grand River Hospital is in the midst of very large teaching hospitals, such as Hamilton, Toronto and London, which creates a large amount of competition for where emergency department physicians choose to work after they’re done their training.

The current situation that GRH emergency department faces is a shortage of one physician every shift to care for patients and tend to medical needs.

A small number of emergency physicians graduate each year and they’re in great demand all over the country. It’s an area of the hospital that is the first point of contact. People are coming through those doors so we need physicians who have been well-trained in emergency medicine. It’s just a very competitive environment,” said Bailey.

The Ministry of Health always funds one resident for the GRH emergency department each year. With the additional funding, another resident can be trained each year, allowing two residents to be working in the emergency department at the same time.

“We feel from that pool of six residents who are in training … that we will be successful at recruiting an additional physicians once their training is complete,” said Bailey.

With potential future retirements, maternity leaves, individuals choosing to leave to go to other hospitals, amongst other reasons, GRH hopes their creative strategy will allow them to plan ahead and successfully recruit someone who is trained and already accustomed to the work environment.

“If people train in your hospital, they’re more likely to stay in your hospital when their training is complete,” said Bailey.

GRH’s emergency department work load increases six to eight per cent each year. At the same time, the Waterloo Region’s population grows exponentially.

“That puts more pressure on your emergency room needs,” explained Bailey.

The campaign, which began Nov. 8, has already brought in over 450 donations and has accumulated almost $50,000.

In order to reach their goal, GRH sent out letters to homes across the Waterloo Region that are both previous donors and first time donors. Bailey said she expects the fundraiser to take approximately six months before they reach their goal.

Currently, 40 physicians reside at the GRH emergency department. Each physician sees over 66,000 patients a year.

“We’re really busy with people calling us, donating online and sending back their pledge forms that they received in the mail, I think the community is really excited about the campaign.”

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