By the end of December, there will only be one physician still practicing in Elk Point.
Dr. Drew Ramful, who has had a family medicine clinic in the town for the past thirty years, announced his retirement this week effective Dec. 31.
“It was a tough decision to make. But I had to make it. I am 66 years old and have my senior citizenship,” said Ramful, noting most people retire at 65.
“I have interests outside medicine that I’ve been planning to enjoy once I retire. So I certainly look forward to retirement and enjoying some of the things that have been sitting on the back burner for many years,” said Ramful.
“I like photography, I’m quite keen on that,” he said.
At this point, there is no one lined up to take over his clinic, but he said they are, “actively looking to get someone young to come in and take over.”
Elk Point Mayor Lorne Young said Dr. Ramful’s retirement will have a huge impact on the community.
“With him being the second doctor to announce leaving in December, that puts our community into a pretty tough spot. We’ll be down to one doctor, one active doctor, unless they’re able to fill those positions fairly quickly. So part of what we’re doing is trying to get AHS to move as quickly on this as possible,” said Young.
Earlier this month, Dr. Oyebode announced plans to close his practice and move to Calgary at the end of the year.
With both Dr. Ramful and Dr. Oyebode leaving, it means Dr. Adenike Ashaolu will be the only doctor left practicing in Elk Point as of Jan. 1, 2021.
The Town of Elk Point has an ongoing letter writing campaign on the issue and is pushing for Alberta Health Services to release the work plan for the hospital so community leaders will have a better sense of how it is viewed by the organization.
Young said he can’t thank Dr. Ramful enough for his years of service to the community.
“He’s probably well into a second generation of people that he’s been serving here. Everybody knows who Dr. Ramful is. And the thing that I think we appreciate the most, and we took it for granted here in Elk Point–you can make an appointment and get into see a doctor within a day or two at the most.
“In many other communities, they just don’t have that luxury. And Dr. Ramful was a key part of that high level of service that served not only Elk Point, but the whole community around us,” said Young.
Lakeland Connect contacted Alberta Health Services for comment regarding plans for emergency room coverage at the Elk Point Hospital. The organization did not expect to have a response before deadline.