More physicians needed in the north, county tells minister

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

A shortage of physicians in the High Prairie region and throughout northern Alberta is prompting a letter to the provincial health minister.
At its Dec. 9 meeting, Big Lakes County council decided to send the letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro to explain their concerns about doctor recruitment in northern Alberta.

“We could be down to four doctors in the region,” said reeve Ken Matthews. “They won’t last long because they’ll get burned out.”

Matthews had presented the concern at the Northern Alberta Elected Leaders meeting on Dec. 4.

It’s an issue all over the north, said CAO Jordan Panasiuk in a report to council.

“Sending a letter would make a clear statement about how the county and northern communities feel on the topic of doctor recruitment,” he said.

Other northern leaders will also write letters to the minister, council heard.
Matthews took the opportunity to express related concerns.

“We don’t know what’s happening with dialysis in High Prairie,” he said. “AHS is reluctant to put out information updates.”

Back on Feb. 6, 2019, the provincial government announced that dialysis services would be added in High Prairie in 2020. The government committed $5.2 million to build a new permanent dialysis clinic in the hospital, to provide services for up to 12 patients weekly.

There’s been a change in government since that commitment was made, but the new one says dialysis is going ahead in 2021 or 2022, according to Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn.

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