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Tuesday , 5 July 2022

Municipalities growing frustrated by lack of physician coverage in ERs, write letter to Minister

The M.D. of Bonnyville has written a letter to the Minister of Health to address the “critical level” emergency room physician coverage has reached. 

Penned April 19, the letter discusses the increased number of instances where there is no physician overnight at the Cold Lake hospital. The issue is felt in the surrounding health care facilities, which then take on patients needing urgent care. 

The letter implores the province the begin creating programs that results in improved access to emergency medical care and acquiring a family doctor. 

“Currently, and on a frequent basis, one of our two hospitals are without Emergency Room physicians. Many of our residents also have no access to a family physician leaving them with no continuity of care,” the M.D. letter says, signed by Reeve Barry Kalinski. 

“The Northeast region of the province, and in particular, the Municipal District of Bonnyville, provides the province with over 30% of all oil revenue. It is shameful that this region, which provides so much, is unable to provide its residents with basic healthcare needs.” 

Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland commented on the situation saying they have been making noise about it to AHS for a long time. 

“The responsibility is on the senior leadership of AHS to have a hard look at the recruitment process and getting doctors into Canada or locally,” said Copeland on The Morning After. 

“How do you get access to universities and get more spots in the universities for Canadians to get in the medicine field? And we’ve got to reevaluate the compensation, in my opinion, for rural doctors and health professionals in rural Alberta. Not just doctors, but across the board. We’re three hours away from Edmonton and there needs to be a different pay scale.” 

The Town of Bonnyville decided to write their own letter at last Tuesday’s council meeting, to follow up on the M.D. one. 

Mayor of Bonnyville Elisa Brosseau said the spillover effect creates ramifications for access to healthcare in the entire region. 

“We hope to hear that they’ve heard us, they see our issues and our concerns. And maybe they start coming out here and doing something more than just some lip service,” said Brosseau on The Morning After.  

“But I think we can’t expect that they’re just going to jump up and down once they receive one letter, I think it has to be something that’s ongoing until we see some action for our region.” 

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.