A new emergency department physician at Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS), will reduce its dependence on Health Force Ontario locum physicians, CEO and president, Veronica Nelson said.

A locum is a physician who, on a temporary basis, fulfills the duties of a doctor who is absent, or who fills a role required by a hospital or practice that is short-staffed.

Nelson added Dr. Ali Bohra, who started May 2, also offers “a breadth of clinical skills from which our patients will benefit.”

County physician recruitment coordinator, Wendy Welch, explained Dr. Bohra is an emergency room specialist, not a family doctor that also does emergency. “And he’s been practising for many years.”

The County of Haliburton, in a joint press release with HHHS, said Dr. Bohra responded to a physician recruitment advertisement last fall and visited the Highlands in February with his spouse.

“Thanks to his visit, interactions with the team, and the warm welcome Dr. Bohra and his family experienced, he is excited to join HHHS,” the County and HHHS said.

Warden Liz Danielsen added, “the addition of Dr. Bohra will result in improved access to local health care for our residents and visitors to the County.”

Danielsen further said his commitment as an ED physician will have “a profound impact” on the Highlands. “His passion for healthcare, calm demeanor, and excitement to contribute positively to the community will no doubt leave a lasting impression.”

The Highlander requested an interview with Dr. Bohra, but was told HHHS and the County wanted to give him time to settle into his role before speaking with media. He was quoted in a press release as saying, “I think it’s high time for me to serve the community with respect and dignity, the same way I would wish for myself.”

Danielsen said the successful recruitment is the result of a team effort over many months between the chief of staff at HHHS, Dr. Keith Hay, and Welch.

Welch said recruiting physicians is complex at the best of times and having them come from overseas involves an added dimension, looking into immigration and visas, and the resulting red tape.

“It can be very frustrating. It takes a lot of patience. But it is so rewarding when it works out. When he started, he was just so happy to be here, so appreciative, and just so thankful.”

Welch said Dr. Bohra is staying in a County-leased property for likely two months, providing time to find something more permanent. The County also incentivizes doctors as posted on its website.

She said there will be a learning curve for him, coming from a different country, and to a rural hospital, from an urban health care facility.

She added she has a few other leads, including some from the U.K., Canada, and some U.S.-trained. “So, I’ll just keep working wherever I get the leads from.”

Danielsen said, “as we know, physician recruitment is very challenging in this current competitive market, thus ensuring we take a collaborative and innovative approach helps to bring incredible talent like Dr. Bohra to the Highlands.”

Nelson said as part of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) requirement to onboard Internationally-trained physicians who are exam eligible, there is a component where a supervisor is assigned until the physician has had the opportunity to pass the exams within a three-year period.

“HHHS is fortunate to have supervisors available to support Dr. Bohra on his journey to receive his independent practice certificate,” she said.

On the HaliDoc Facebook page, Debbie Wales welcomed Dr. Bohra.

“I had the pleasure of meeting you tonight at the ER and was very impressed with your compassion and thorough explanation in layman’s terms, in treating my sister’s broken leg. Thank you for joining the Haliburton team and welcome to Haliburton. I hope you will love it.”