Two new doctors are coming to St. Paul in 2021 including a general surgeon and a family physician.
The announcement from Alberta Health Services is welcome news to the town where a crisis of care was building following surgeon Dr. Ahmad’s decision to take a position in Cold Lake and family practitioner Dr. Gordon’s decision to relocate her practice.
While the names of the new doctors are not yet public, Alberta Health Services did confirm the surgeon will be bringing their family with them from Saskatchewan and is expected to start in February 2021.
“It is very exciting that a new general surgeon is coming to work in St. Paul,” says Dr. Albert Harmse, Acting Zone Medical Director, North Zone.
“We heard from the community, including from other local physicians, and their perspective and input on the need for recruitment to begin for a new general surgeon right away was instrumental to this work. We are pleased we’ve been able to make progress so quickly, and looking forward to welcoming a new surgeon to St. Paul.”
The new family doctor is an international recruit and AHS is working with both the doctor and the College of Physicians and Surgeons to determine next steps and timelines. According to the community update dated Nov. 10, if all goes well they hope to have the new doctor started by April 2021.
“We appreciate the support of local physicians and community members,” says Greg Cummings, Chief Zone Officer for AHS North Zone. “By working together, we can ensure that our recruitment processes are transparent and co-operative. Recruiting a physician to a rural or remote location is a complex process and requires a collaborative approach.”
Recruitment for two other family medicine positions in St. Paul and Elk Point is ongoing. A spokesperson for AHS said they will “continue to work to ensure there is no gap of service in the St. Paul area. AHS has the ability to bring in locum (temporary) physicians and also to bring in physicians from other communities to ensure coverage at our site.”
Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA David Hanson said he’s thrilled to see more doctors coming to the region.
“St. Paul has had a challenging year and I know this will alleviate many concerns our community has faced. I look forward to continuing to work with the physicians in St. Paul to improve health delivery in our area,” said Hanson.