Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Lethbridge doctors holding community health care town hall

NOTE: In the event of overwhelming concerns with large gatherings and COVID-19, this event could be live-streamed or broadcast. Please stay tuned for these details.

A number of Lethbridge doctors are coming together next week to hold a public town hall meeting on local health care.

The physicians are concerned about the impact provincial changes will have on patient care here in the city. Some of those changes include doctors no longer being allowed to bill for more than 65 patients a day. There will also be new fee rules on extended patient visits, known as complex modifiers. The province will reduce the amount it pays on complex modifiers and extend the time limits on those visits starting next year.

Dr. Garland Jonker with the Campbell Clinic is spearheading the public forum. He says patients here will be impacted, in one or another. “Some clinics in town are either going to reduce or stop their evening walk-in clinics. If that happens the concern is the burden of patient care after hours goes onto emergency doctors.”

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Dr. Jonker says physicians’ first and foremost priority is to try and maintain optimal patient care which they currently provide. “I don’t think our community truly comprehends the potential implication of these changes and what it might mean for their own health.”

The Lethbridge doctors plan to collectively address a number of the consultation proposals that will be implemented April 1, 2020 by the province and outline specifically how they are in fact going to change how medicine is practiced in the city.

Dr. Jonker says they will have physicians from the clinic level all the way up to the hospital level and some community programming who will be presenting and answering questions.

He notes because of the changes coming, it will likely result in doctors spending less time with patients, shortening up visits and less time talking about health concerns, and in some cases complicated concerns. “We will have to streamline the amount of time we spend with patients. It’s also possible we will have to reduce some of the value-added aspects of our clinics. Some things which might disappear like x-ray, in-house labs, access to registered nursing, diabetic team specialists, or counselling or therapy. So there may be a real reduction in the resources we’re able to support.”

The physician town hall is scheduled for next Thursday, March 19th at La Cite des Prairies school on 6th Avenue South.

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