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Hastings County to bring in new family physician for Marmora and Lake

Melissa Holwaty

For almost a year, Dr. Melissa Holowaty has been the only physician serving the municipality of Marmora and Lake. Hastings County has managed to recruit a second doctor for the area, but he won’t arrive until summer 2018. Photo: marmoramedical.com [1]

By Matthew Murray [2]

BELLEVILLE – After having only one physician for the entire town for almost a year, Marmora [3] will be getting a second doctor to help take care of the area, Hastings County council [4] has announced.

Dr. Payman Charkhrazin [5] will soon be one of two doctors in Marmora, with Dr. Melissa Holowaty running the only other practice in the municipality of 4,000 people. He was recruited by the county’s Family Physician Recruitment program [6], which pays doctors $150,000 over six years in an effort to attract physicians to the area. According to the Hastings County website, the program has brought 16 doctors to the area with, with eight of them still practising.

Charkhzarin first came to the area while on placement in his third year of medical school, according to John Nicholas, program co-ordinator for Hastings County. In fall 2016, he met with representatives of Hastings County during a University of Ottawa recruitment event, Nicholas told QNet News Thursday. The county then organized to have him visit Marmora and the area to consider the idea of practising there, he said.

Trying to attract physicians to Hastings County is a challenge due to the massive need for doctors in rural areas across the province, Nicholas said.

“There are a lot of rural communities in need, so it’s hard to distinguish yourself from some of the others.”

Another challenge that rural areas face is that doctors believe there are more opportunities for them in larger cities like Ottawa and Toronto, Nicholas said.

But with Hastings County being close enough to areas like Kingston, Ottawa, Toronto and Belleville, the county’s recruitment program has been fairly successful in attracting physicians to the area.

As a rule, the program avoids poaching doctors from existing practices, and instead focuses on attracting new graduates of medical programs, Nicholas said. Unfortunately, the recruitment process can take some time because of this, and replacing doctors can take longer than expected, he said. When Dr. Anne Muscat left Marmora in March 2016, the program ramped up its efforts to find a replacement, but was unable to find one until now, he added.

Charkhrazin won’t begin practising in Marmora until summer 2018, but those looking to sign up as patients can register for the Health Care Connect program by calling 1-800-445-1822 or going to Ontario.ca/healthcareconnect [7].