Corbella: A health care ‘disaster’ is averted in rural Alberta — for now

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“AHS only partially covered hospital services for two weeks and were not able to do surgeries or obstetrics,” he said. “They may not be able to cover the emergency room 24 hours. This is a far cry from Minister Shandro stating . . . that he would just move physicians into communities where doctors wanted to leave. We know how hard it is to get doctors in rural Alberta and one comment from our meeting with AHS on Monday was how extremely hard it was for them to find even enough coverage for two weeks,” Anderberg said in his report to the community.

During an interview Friday, Anderberg revealed that the town “has already lost two young recruits who were coming to Pincher Creek to practice medicine.

“These young doctors were basically signed up to come here to join our health team and both of those doctors now, because of the toxic atmosphere towards doctors in this province, have decided to go elsewhere,” he lamented.

On Monday, the mayor and council met with the community’s doctors and pleaded with them to extend their hospital services for another 90 days “to allow town council time to encourage Alberta Health and AHS to negotiate a contract with Alberta’s physicians.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro. /Postmedia Archive

On Thursday, the town’s doctors agreed to stay their withdrawal of services from the hospital, so there is a reprieve — for now — and much relief in the town and surrounding area.

Dr. Samantha Myhr, who was reached at the clinic where she works with eight colleagues, says a combination of reasons led to the physicians deciding to extend their hospital work, including a recent COVID-19 outbreak in the area and evidence that38 per cent of emergency room shifts would have been left unfilled in August without their services. But mostly, they decided to continue to work in the hospital because of their meeting with the mayor and council. 

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