Four doctors in St. Paul have handed in their resignations in the three days since a report detailed the domino effect of a general surgeon moving his practice to Cold Lake.
“We want our residents to know that though we have had little or no cooperation or support from the Alberta Health Services North Zone officials,” said St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller in a statement Wednesday.
“We will continue to do what we can to retain and support our doctors and to push for another surgeon. I want to make it clear that this is NOT a political decision, but rather one that has been generated and enforced by the local health region, not the government or governing party.”
Calls and e-mails to Alberta Health Services since the story broke on Monday have not been returned. On Wednesday, a representative from AHS said they would be available to speak to media Sept. 17.
According to Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA David Hanson, much of the response to the story has been criticism of him and the governing United Conservative Party, whose health minister Tyler Shandro has been embroiled in a battle with the Alberta Medical Association for months.
“This has nothing to do with that at all,” he said. “I was very involved in getting that work done to exempt our rural doctors from those changes, and things were starting to calm down and I’m continuing to work on that file. But this is a total blunder by AHS. It was handled very badly, no communication to the medical staff and now we’re facing these threats of loss of doctors,” said Hanson.
Hanson said he has no intention of sitting back and taking the abuse.
“The decision to move and create a position in Cold Lake is a decision that was made by AHS Staff, and I’m not going to sit back and take the abuse on this one. Those people can explain what’s going to happen in St. Paul and they better be honest because I’ve got the Minister’s department on it and I want to get some intervention and find out exactly what’s going on,” said Hanson.
“We’ve got four young doctors that are willing to stay long term, but they’ve got specialties. So if there’s no surgeon, they don’t get to exercise their profession and they lose competency. So they don’t really have a choice, if they want to follow their profession they have to move to someplace that has a surgeon. It’s a huge loss for St. Paul, we can’t afford it, and I’m just sick and tired of the mismanagement of AHS’s representation of our area.”
More to follow.