Saturday, December 10, 2022

Pincher Creek doctors resigning local extended hospital services in July

Concerns in southwest Alberta after doctors in Pincher Creek announced they’re pulling the plug on hospital-based services in a few months.

The docs are the latest on growing list of rural physicians in Alberta to announce changes in the way they do things, citing health care modifications made by the provincial government as the beginning of this month.

Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg says the town fully supports its doctors, noting they’ve been trying to address this issue with the province for a few months now and haven’t really gotten anywhere.

“The group of doctors here support about 35 health care positions in their clinic,” says Anderberg. “The changes in their pay scale, some of which came unannounced such as the emergency doc on-call pay. It’s actually a pretty big hit to them.”

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Pincher Creek is said to be one of the top small communities in the province when it comes to training rural doctors.

The Associate Clinic in Pincher has 11 physicians, with 9 doctors giving notice. That clinic is within the Pincher Creek Health Centre itself.

Anderberg says Pincher Creek’s United Conservative MLA Roger Reid has been “really supportive” noting Reid understands the issues. “It just seems to me we’re not getting much feedback from the province,” says Mayor Anderberg. “We are not getting answers to the questions we are asking and it really doesn’t seem, on the surface, to be a money issue. The province has claimed they’re going to keep doctors’ pay the same.”

Pincher Creek now joins several other rural centres in Alberta including Stettler, Lac La Biche, Sundre, Bragg Creek, and Rocky Mountain House to announce a reduction in hospital services.

The Pincher Creek docs say provincial changes make it financially unsustainable to keep their clinic running in the same capacity and to provide extended hospital services at the same time.

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