The Canadian News

These 3 new family doctors are opening a Hamilton Mountain clinic amid a national physician shortage


undreds of patients already signed up for the 688 Queensdale Ave. clinic that opens Monday


Bobby Hristova – CBC News

Dr. Rebecca Voth, Dr. Joyce Moore and Dr. Natalie Klostermann, left to right, are opening up a clinic on the Mountain on Aug. 15 and hope to serve up to 3,600 patients. (Submitted by Hamilton Family Health Team)

Hamilton Mountain is getting a new family medicine clinic that is poised to serve roughly 3,600 patients, an addition that comes amid a Canadian shortage of family physicians.

The clinic, run by the Hamilton Family Health Team (HFHT), opens Monday at 688 Queensdale Ave. and will have patients registered to doctors, rather than taking walk-ins.

Doctors Natalie Klostermann, Joyce Moore and Rebecca Voth say they’re eager to get started.


“Really getting to know the patient and see them through a lifetime, hopefully … is a privilege,” Klostermann said.

You walk with people for many, many years … that’s the beautiful part of family medicine.- Dr. Rebecca Voth

Moore grew up in Hamilton and Voth grew up in Kitchener, Ont. They both studied at McMaster University and Klostermann studied at the University of Toronto. All three now live in Hamilton.

Terry McCarthy, HFHT executive director, said the three doctors are starting with no patients, which will benefit people looking for a family doctor.

What’s behind the doctor shortage?

Brad van den Heuvel, a recruitment specialist with Hamilton Physicians at the David Braley Health Sciences Centre, said there are roughly 363 active, permanent family doctors in the city. There are other part-time or contract doctors, but van den Heuvel noted it’s hard to track how many.

He said the city needs roughly 50 more doctors (assuming local doctors are assigned to 1,380 patients each) to ensure everyone has one. But he notes that doesn’t mean there are thousands of people without care.

  • WATCH | What’s behind the shortage of family doctors in Canada?

Family physicians Dr. Kamila Premji and Dr. Rita McCracken discuss the shortage of family doctors in Canada and what can be done to ease the situation.  6:52

“This shortage may be a bit exaggerated as some people choose to access walk-in clinics and community health centres throughout the city and are therefore not looking for a family physician,” he said in an email.

He gave various reasons for the doctor shortage in Hamilton, including:

  • Municipalities are competing for family doctors.
  • Not enough family medicine residents are being trained in Ontario.
  • There’s a lack of interest in traditional family practices from new graduates.
  • Younger physicians may want a better work-life balance.

Laurel Turnbull, HFHT’s operations director, said the number of people without family doctors has generally been at roughly six per cent of the population.

She also said the shortage of local doctors may actually be as bad as thought, given that in her experience, they are assigned to more than 1,380 patients each.

McCarthy added that HFHT and McMaster Family Health Team doctors have access to other teams, including mental health counsellors, pharmacists, registered dietitians and nurses, among other roles.

Van den Heuvel said the city is also getting more doctors, adding that last year, 28 full-time doctors and 20 contract doctors were added, and this year, there will likely be even more.

He said the new clinic is “definitely a big win for our community.”

Over 880 patients already signed for new clinic

Laurel Turnbull, HFHT’s operations director, said 882 patients had already signed up online to get care from the clinic, as of late July.

It will operate from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday to Friday, with some after-hours care as needed.

Patients will be contacted in mid-August to begin setting up appointments.

Moore said she hopes more people sign up, rather than rely on walk-in services, especially because a family doctor may be more likely to catch something before it becomes a problem.

“There are lots of things we do and look out for that people might not be aware of if you’re not seeing your doctor on a regular basis or if you don’t have someone there to quarterback your health,” she said.

Voth said she, Moore and Klostermann are excited to grow with their patients.

“You walk with people for many, many years … that’s the beautiful part of family medicine.”

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