Physician would need help with furniture and childcare.
A new doctor could be installed in St. Paul by mid-march if appropriate lodgings are found for their family.
In an update to Town of St. Paul council at the Monday meeting, Mayor Maureen Miller said she had a physician recruitment interview on Feb. 4 which went extremely well, noting it is the third such interview she has had.
“The final contracts still need to be settled up with Alberta Health Services, but all three went extremely well. I’m so impressed with all three that I’ve had the opportunity to meet. It’s all been through zoom,” said Miller.
The Town of St. Paul and the surrounding area have struggled to recruit and retain doctors in recent months, with a number of physicians choosing to relocate.
Miller said this prospective new recruit is currently in Toronto and is married to another doctor who is still undergoing assessment. The couple has four children and have been in Canada for eight years.
“They are wanting some form of accommodation that has some furniture to it. So she would be arriving from Toronto with the children and needing some kind of accommodation to accommodate six people,” said Miller.
According to Miller, the units the town has available include a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom apartment, which are obviously insufficient.
“If we can work as a community and try and find some interim housing for this particular family, and if the agreement happens with Alberta Health Services, they could be here and ready to open a clinic as early as the middle of March,” said Miller.
She said the couple will also need childcare for their two youngest children.
Coun. Tyson deMoissac asked how many positions the Town of St. Paul is currently recruiting for. According to Miller, they are hoping for four more between now and June and some contracts have already been signed. All four are full-time clinic physicians.
She said one of the other physicians who will be coming has a number of small children as well, “so we’re building up our kindergarten program.”
Miller noted Coun. Brad Eamon had also attended the meetings with Alberta Health Services and made “very clear recommendations that we get some activity happening.”
County and Town looking to add cost-sharing in new ICF
In her report to county council on Feb. 9, County of St. Paul CAO Sheila Kitz said the costs of doctor recruitment have exceeded the $10,000 budgeted in 2020.
According to Kitz, the County spent just over $15,000. In previous years, she said the County has spent approximately $6,500 on doctor recruitment.
“We’ve always just shared the cost 50/50 [with the Town] on that on what their net expense is, and so this year it just ended up being more than usual,” said Kitz.
She noted in conversation with Town of St. Paul CAO Kim Heyman they have also realized there is no formal agreement in place detailing that arrangement and so they think it prudent to put it down on paper as part of the Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework document.
“Especially as we enter into an election year, it would be good if everybody knew what the rules were if and when we get new council members sitting at the table,” said Kitz.
Kitz also reported that two physicians may be coming to Elk Point later this year, but said they are still in the process of completing paperwork and it will be several months before they are in place.