By Kristen Shane
After six years away, Dr. Michael Emond started back to work at the Kincardine medical clinic Monday with $20,000 of taxpayers’ money in his pocket.
In a 6-3 recorded vote last Wednesday, Kincardine council approved an incentive package for Emond to work as a doctor at the medical clinic, a job he performed for more than a decade before leaving in the spring of 2003 to take a full-time position as a doctor with Bruce Power.
The package gives Emond $20,000 in each of his first four years back to work, in order for him to pay the start-up costs associated with beginning a practice again.
A separate agreement is to be signed to give Emond the right to occupy space in the medical clinic.
Because of government regulations, Emond is treated like a new medical graduate beginning a practice, notwithstanding his previous work at the clinic. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care requires him to work as a locum doctor at the orphan clinic until the correct paperwork goes through so that he can start rostering patients for his own practice.
That’s why Emond asked the municipality for the money.
Almost all his former patients are with other doctors now, he said, so he will have to start afresh.
“These incentives help a new physician cover the overhead costs so they can establish a practice to become part of the family health network officially,” he said. “I’m really just starting like any other doctor coming to Kincardine.”
But some councillors saw the situation differently.
“Dr. Emond six and a half years ago disappeared from this community,” said Councillor Marsha Leggett. “I do not want to have to pay this man $80,000.”
But she reasoned that Kincardine needs a new doctor more than it needs the money.
“I think that the taxpayers need to know that they’re fighting to keep their hospital, but they’re putting out money daily for the likes of Dr. Emond, who has more or less left us with the understanding that if we don’t go along with this he may just go down the road (back to Bruce Power). So, under duress, I will agree to hiring Dr. Emond,” said Leggett.
She also noted that the Kincardine hospital emergency room will still remain short-staffed because Emond will not take shifts there. He has diabetes and is at risk of his interfering with his blood-sugar levels if he doesn’t keep a consistent routine.
Other councillors said they supported Emond if he wants to work as a doctor for the community, but they didn’t want to pay him the incentive package.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the other doctors who carried the orphan patients when he was gone,” said Councillor Gordon Campbell.
For his part, Mayor Larry Kraemer said Emond is a doctor any other community would be thrilled to have. “I accept that Dr. Emond has to start up a new clinic, and he has given 25 years service to the community,” he said.
In the end, only Campbell, Randy Roppel and Guy Anderson voted against the motion.
At the same meeting, council voted to accept another incentive package for Steven Poirier.
He is slated to join the medical clinic after he finishes his medical residency in the summer of 2012 (not 2013 as The Independent reported last week). He will open a family practice and work rounds at the emergency room.
Council gave Poirier a typical $100,000 incentive package, $20,000 more than Emond’s. It also agreed to Poirier’s request to receive the money in installments now, rather than after he starts. That way, it can go to pay off his $20,000-a-year tuition, books and living expenses, he said in a phone interview with The Independent.
While Poirier is locked in to work at the Kincardine medical clinic for five years, Emond has signed a seven-year deal.
Poirier said he chose Kincardine because it is centrally located between his wife’s family in
He said he doesn’t have any ties to Kincardine, but is looking to create some.
“I have two kids. I’m not just going to up and pop them out of school,” he said.
Emond said he, too, is ready to do family medicine again for the long haul.
“I plan to stay as long as I’m healthy,” he said.