Earlier this month a formal announcement from the Joint Municipal Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee (JMPRRC) advised that Dr. Erin Murray (Above – photo submitted) will set up a practice in Barry’s Bay this summer following her final exams.
After an undergraduate degree in biology at Queen’s University, Erin knew she wanted a career in Science. “I did some bench work research in the lab, and also some clinical research interacting more with patients. That’s what I really enjoyed and what led me to pursue medicine.”
It was at Queen’s that she met Barry’s Bay native (now her husband), Gaelen Murray. Having grown up in Burlington, Erin admits she wasn’t too familiar with the Ottawa Valley but she has come to know and love the area from frequent visits over the past ten years.
About her two-year residency program through the University of Ottawa at Pembroke Regional Hospital (PRH), she said, “I’m really enjoying it. We’ve got some off-service rotations rotations like internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, general surgery … and the majority of time [is] spent in family clinics. It definitely prepares us well for rural family practice.” Because of her PRH residency, the couple have been living near Pembroke and Gaelen has commuted to work at Murray Brothers Lumber, the family business.
She explained, “I’m looking forward to what Barry’s Bay offers. It allows me to achieve my professional goals and have the full breadth of family practice that I envision for myself …. I’m looking forward to the next step.” She added that the Valley offers a “balance for a good quality of life. It’s a beautiful location with access to all the hobbies I enjoy and the outdoors, so it really suits me.” She described her interest in cross-country skiing, hiking, “a lot of” cycling, camping, and being near Algonquin Park. She expressed disappointment that the pandemic delayed plans for an introductory paddling weekend on the river in 2020.
Dr. Jason Malinowski spoke about his new colleague: “We are very excited to welcome Dr. Erin Murray to our medical staff in 2021. Dr. Murray trained with me during her residency, and has an excellent grasp of the medical landscape here in Barry’s Bay, at the Madawaska Valley Family Health Team (MVFHT), St. Francis Memorial Hospital, and the Valley Manor. She cared for patients at all three places when she was here with me. I really enjoyed working with her, and my patients felt very confident in her care of them.”
He continued, “My staff and I are extremely excited to welcome her back! She will be taking on unattached patients from the list that we centralized through the MVFHT a few years ago.”
Physician recruitment is good news
The Current spoke with South Algonquin’s Mayor Jane Dumas who chairs the JMPRRC who said, “Primary care is in dire straits in Ontario and Canada and the lack of primary care physicians is a huge issue. That’s why this is a really good story right now.”
“We’ve had some physicians [who] wanted to be here so badly because of the beauty of the area, the four seasons playground, the sense of community. And we have an incredible healthcare system here … The diversity of healthcare, interdisciplinary teams that are practising medicine throughout this area. This medical community works together cohesively – there’s no posturing, there’s support.”
With Drs. Dan and Teresa Ostapowicz having taken over Dr. Atfield’s practice in late 2020, Dr. Murray is the third new doctor to come to this area recently. Of the role played by the JMPRRC, Dumas said, “We have two of the founding members of the original committee still involved with physician recruitment (Janice Tiedje of Killaloe Hagarty Richards and Desmond Quade from Brudenell Lyndoch & Raglan). You can imagine how they feel and the accomplishments that they can pat themselves on the back for.”
Dr. Malinowski expressed his appreciation of the JMPRRC: “The support of the multi-municipality recruitment committee has been instrumental in filling the practices vacated by the retirements of our beloved long-term physicians.”
Choosing rural family practice
Contrasting urban primary care with rural medicine, Dumas said, “Look what our doctors do – they go to Emergency, they look after Valley Manor patients, they’re involved in hospice palliative care, they look after individuals on home care in the community. It obviously takes somebody that’s looked at the whole situation and said, ‘I’m up for this, this is how I want to practise medicine and this is where I’m going to come.’”
Mayor Dumas emphasized, “They chose us. They chose this community to come to, so we are very fortunate.”
Dr. Erin Murray’s message for Valley residents: “I’m really looking forward to starting my practice and getting to know the community.”