Saturday , 17 April 2021

Lac La Biche doctors will not resign after province made changes to help rural physicians

Lac La Biche physicians have withdrawn their resignation of hospital privileges because of the provincial government’s announcement on Friday that walked back some of the changes that came into effect on April 1.

On April 16, ten Lac La Biche physicians resigned hospital privileges due to “funding changes to our Schedule of Medical Benefit Claim fees” and would no longer work in emergency or obstetrics services.

In an online message Tuesday morning on the Associated Medical Clinic of Lac La Biche’s Facebook page, the same doctors reversed that message.

“Due to the recent amendments and changes by the government of the schedule of medical benefits, we can continue to provide uninterrupted medical care to all of our patients. There will be no change in the way we provide care, and all services will remain unchanged.

“This includes, but is not limited to, continued obstetrical care to deliver babies, anesthetic, and surgical coverage, 24-hour emergency room coverage in the Lac La Biche hospital as well as continued office visits at the Associated Medical Clinic,” the post said.

Health Minister Tyler Schandro’s announcement on Friday included cancelling changes to the complex modifier fee, exempting rural physicians from overhead billing changes, and abolishing the $60,000 cap on the Rural and Remote Northern Program, which provides financial top-ups to physicians in rural and remote areas.

Medical liability rates for all rural physicians, including obstetrics, will be frozen at $1,000 and on-call rates for all rural physicians will range from $20 per hour to $23 per hour.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA David Hanson said after these changes he hoped physicians would reconsider leaving.

He said the rural caucus of MLAs have been working with Shandro on these changes to help recruiting and retaining rural doctors.

“We would like to sincerely thank all who have supported us through this difficult time to ensure current and future high-quality medical care to our community and beyond. Whether it was by direct or indirect action, a note or even a voice of support, thank you to all, as the list is just too long to thank each individually,” the post said.

“With the new changes, we are hopeful to expand our services even more in the future. We now collectively stand stronger as a community because of you.”

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.