The doctor is "in"
It’s home to Queen’s medical school, but like so many other Canadian cities, Kingston, Ontario, has a critical shortage of family doctors. Now, a young alumnus has opened a storefront medical clinic that he hopes will help ease the situation and revitalize the city’s downtown core.
I loved the atmosphere at Queen’s, and I wanted to bring something to the local community.
Downtown Kingston has a new and much-needed family medicine and walk-in clinic. Dr. Chris Kozanitis, Meds’06, has signed a 20-year lease on a building on Princess Street, in the heart of the city’s downtown, and he opened the doors on his practice on June 1.
The building in which he’s done so, formerly a video arcade, has been gutted and equipped as a state-of- the-art medical clinic, complete with nine patient examination rooms. “This project is my dream, and the renovation was one the best experiences of my life,” he says.
Kozanitis, who hails from Surrey, B.C., returned to Kingston after finishing his two-year Family Medicine Residency at the U of T.
He chose a downtown location for his office because he saw the need for a medical clinic in the city’s downtown core and because he likes the urban lifestyle that Kingston offers.
Says Kozanitis, “I loved the atmosphere at Queen’s, and I wanted to bring something to the local community.”
He noted the crying need for family doctors in the city and saw that the lack of a downtown walk-in clinic was having a serious impact on area residents and on the emergency departments at the city’s two active-treatment hospitals.
In exchange for a five-year commitment from Kozanitis, Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) stepped forward to help meet the start-up costs involved in renovating the storefront clinic.
The agency’s CEO Jeff Garrah, Artsci’96, says he is cautiously optimistic about the success of KEDCO’s physician recruitment program, which has KEDCO working in conjunction with city council and city staff.
“Three years ago there were 20,000 residents without a family doctor in Kingston. We said we would recruit 30 new doctors over three years. We’ve recruited 24 new physicians and it’s now estimated that the number of residents without a family doctor is approximately two or three thousand,” he says.
In time, Kozanitis plans to hire as many as five full-time doctors and recruit part-time specialists potentially including an obstetrician–gynecologist, psychiatrist, a minor procedures surgeon, an emergency room doctor, and possibly a physiotherapist. In the meantime, he’s working 12- hour days, seven days a week to get his practice on a solid footing.
Kozanitis and his newlywed wife, Ziny Yen, Meds’09, who will finish her Family Medicine Residency at Queen’s in 2011, have not decided if they will work together although they are thinking about it
To be sure, if they do so the pair will have no shortage of business. Kozanitis hopes to enrol 2,000 new patients from the Health Care Connect Waiting List, as well as seeing walk-ins.
His office’s location makes it a much-needed alternative to two other walk-in clinics, which are in the city’s west end. Local health care officials also hope that the storefront operation will help relieve the burden from the Urgent Care Centre at nearby Hotel Dieu, will help ease overcrowding at the Kingston General Hospital’s emergency care unit, will provide practice opportunities for new physicians, and will contribute to the vitality of city’s downtown neighbourhood.
Dani Delaloye, Sc’09, who is currently working on a Master’s degree in Geological Engineering, was thrilled to see the new clinic open. She lives just around the corner and hasn’t had a family doctor since coming to Kingston in 2005. “My doctor is back home in Calgary,” she says.
Dani is not alone in her predicament. However, with the arrival in town of new doctors—like Chris Kozanitis—that situation is starting to show signs of improvement. Says Kozantis, "A family practice combined with a parallel walk-in clinic is a unique model in Kingston, and I hope it will contribute significantly towards providing badly needed medical services in the city’s downtown core."