Search for second family doctor in Verona, Ont. reaches seventh year


The need for more family doctors is being felt in just about every community across the province. That pinch is felt even more in rural communities. The small community of Verona has been looking for a second doctor to join the family practice. But the search has been going on for years, with no new hiring in sight.Dr. Sabra Gibbens began her practice in the community of Verona, a 40-minute drive north of Kingston, in 2016 to replace a retiring doctor.Not long after joining what was a two-doctor practice, the other doctor left, too, leaving her with roughly 2,500 patients to care for.Gibbens says the hunt for that replacement is in its seventh year. Story continues below advertisement “I ended up getting a nurse practitioner so I’ve just had to hire locum doctors to help me look after everybody,” Dr. Gibbens said.A locum doctor is a physician who comes from another community to help out on a temporary basis.Bibbens says her team has figured out how to make everything work but it’s about a 60-hour week for her. Trending Now “Last night I was still calling people at 7:30, 7:45 at night and that’s pretty typical.”It’s that dedication that has drawn the admiration of the patients her team cares for. It’s a workload that is almost double what most general practitioners take on. 1:32 Kingston City Budget Wrap “What Dr. Gibbens has personally done for me is she’s actually saved my life,” patient Ray Leonard said. Story continues below advertisement “She treats us like important people,” added John McDougall.Kevin Dubreuil thinks more has to be done to support rural communities.“They do seven years to get their licence, or eight years whatever it is, and become a (general practitioner). The governments could say, “You do eight years or seven years; we forgive your debt,’” he said.While the search for another family doctor has been taking place for seven years, Gibbens says she expects it could be another several years before there’s another doctor’s name on the slot here with hers.”“I’m trying to be optimistic and I’m trying to be patient that it will come together at some point but I’m not holding my breath thinking that it’s going to happen in the next year or two,” Gibbens said.Frontenac county is offering $20,000 to recruiters for every doctor they can bring to the region. But like so many initiatives it will take time. &copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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