Physician Recruitment in Cold Lake

During the April 17, 2018 Corporate Priorities Committee Meeting in Cold Lake, Council and Administration discussed physician recruitment; which has been one of Council’s priorities since 2006.

Despite the City’s initiatives of an interest free loan program and providing financing and support to other organizations who do recruitment, such as Hearts for Healthcare, there has been no significant increase in physicians coming to Cold Lake since 2006.

Kevin Nagoya, Chief Administration Officer for the City of Cold Lake stated, “I just got an update today; we do have one doctor that will be out, so we are sitting at eleven doctors now, and three nurse practitioners.”

Although the City of Cold Lake has met with Alberta Health Services, Nagoya said there has been no clear answers by Alberta Health Services regarding the threshold for accessibility for doctors.

“The Alberta Health Services doctors did provide us with a clear measure they try to do.”

He added, “they measure how many doctors per capita the city should have, and they make random phone calls to clinics to see how quick they can get in, but they wouldn’t provide us feedback on where Cold lake is at; they stopped short of that.”

“There was the possibility of the municipality building a clinic, incentivizing doctors to come in to see if they could work on hospital grounds but to date (almost a year later), Alberta Health Services haven’t responded either.”

There was no response from AHS despite the fact Administration had sent them a letter, had a meeting, and sent a follow up letter.

City of Cold Lake Councillor, Jürgen Grau wanted Council to take a slightly different approach.

“We are talking about recruitment, but I was thinking Council should be having a conversation around retention; you can spend all the money you want but why are the doctors leaving?”

Grau also asked how appropriate it would be for the city to get involved with an exiting interview.

City of Cold Lake Councillor, Bob Buckle shared his thoughts with Administration.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here, but part of recruitment is all about capacity building in the community for doctors.”

“Doctors don’t like upfront costs, and we are competing with a lot of other communities out there who are willing to do this. I could be wrong, but I believe part of the problem we have is we don’t have offices for doctors,” Councillor Buckle said there would be ways organizations can assist.

“In a perfect world, if Hearts for Healthcare was to have their own building and in there were rooms for clinics and doctor offices, fully equipped to go, and someone could go in for five dollars a square foot rent, we’d have doctors coming in filling those rooms because they could set up their practice immediately”.

City of Cold Lake Councillor, Kirk Soroka asked Administration if Cold lake could move to a similar system to the one in Bonnyville because Bonnyville has double the number of doctors.

“Can we go to Covenant Health Services like in Bonnyville because that system seems to be working.”

Administration has made recommendations for the city of Cold Lake to host a meeting with the Cold Lake physicians, so they can provide feedback on the next steps for doctor recruitment in the community.