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Answering the call for doctors

The shortage of dermatologists in the local area is about to end. Today the Department of Medicine at Queen’s University is launching a new academic Division of Dermatology. The clinics will be based at Hotel Dieu Hospital and the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario.

“Canadian Dermatology Workforce Survey documents indicate that the clinical needs of an area with the population of Southeastern Ontario should be served by approximately nine dermatologists,” says Stephen Archer, Head of the Department of Medicine at Queen’s. “Until now, however, we’ve had only one very busy private practice dermatologist.”

Yuka Asai

“Typically, patients have seen the existing dermatologist, been referred elsewhere or not seen at all.  Patients have been dramatically underserved here, and the recruitment of these two new dermatologists marks the beginning of the long journey to address those patient needs and to build an outstanding academic dermatology program at Queen’s.”

The Hotel Dieu clinics started up the week of March 31, when Yuka Asai began seeing patients.  Recruited from McGill University where she is completing a PhD, Asai brings clinical expertise in dermatology and research interests that include understanding the genetic basis of peanut allergy.  In August, the division will add a second specialist physician/PhD, Mark Kirchoff, to help meet the growing demand for dermatological services at a time when skin cancer rates alone are skyrocketing.

Still in its early days, the new Division will ramp up slowly, he says, which means patients eager for an appointment should not expect to be seen immediately. “We’re facing a decade of need that won’t be solved overnight.  We want to develop the program in a way that doesn’t swamp capacity,” Dr. Archer explains.

Patients will require a referral from their family physician to attend the clinic at Hotel Dieu, which is being equipped with therapeutic phototherapy technology used to treat various skin diseases and conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and skin lymphoma.  At present, the clinic is targeting adults only.

For more information visit the Hotel Dieu website.