Dr. Kyla Adams. Photo submitted

Dr. Kyla Adams. Photo submitted

New temporary doctor in Ponoka helps stem the flow

Physician recruitment continues to be an issue

While physician recruitment continues to be an issue in Ponoka, Battle River Medical Clinic (BRMC) is seeing some relief with the addition, although temporary, of Dr. Kyla Adams.

Dr. Adams, a recent graduate from the rural family physician’s program at the University of Alberta under the Red Deer Regional Hospital, is joined the clinic in September on an eight-month contract.

She will be available to provide continuity of care for those Ponoka-area residents now without a family doctor and currently “unattached patients” says Dr. Gregory Sawisky, a physician with BRMC.

Ponoka is an ideal position for her at the moment, as it’s a relatively young clinic, which will provide her with some mentorship before she moves on, he says.

READ MORE: Ponoka doctor cites need for better ‘work-life’ balance as reason for leaving

Ponoka town and county offers a lot for new graduates, as they will be able to experience the full scope of rural family health care, from clinic to hospital work, as well as in-home care that is quite “gratifying,” says Sawisky.

He added that the clinic is also welcoming and supportive to its physicians.

Dr. Sawisky says the clinic continues to struggle to recruit new doctors, no small part due to the “fractious relationship” between Alberta physicians and the provincial government.

“They’ve not made it easier with their current strong-armed approach to physician recruitment.”

With Alberta’s aging population, there is an increasing need for family physicians, however, recent graduates are leaving the province as soon as they complete their training, he says.

“The Alberta government is paying to train doctors who are then leaving the province.”

Sawisky added that doctors are “voting with their feet” and going to provinces that “respect their training and abilities.”

Provincial budget cuts and policies are making it more challenging to provide quality health care in Ponoka, he says.

The legal fight between the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and the province is ongoing, and there’s “no sign of resolution in future.”

There are currently eight family doctors at BRMC, however, according to Sawisky the clinic easily has room for 12 physicians.

“Especially considering Ponoka’s proximity to Maskwacis, there is a huge need in this area for family physicians,” he said.

“It’s frustrating and infuriating to me that the government is more concerned with balancing the budget than they are with caring for their own citizens.

“What good is a balanced budget when peoples’ health deteriorates?”

Sawisky says the clinic appreciates the support of the Town of Ponoka, and that the clinic may need to collaborate more proactively with the town in the future, such as to create a recruitment committee.

According to information provided by the town, back in 2011 or 2012, the town was involved with a Retention and Attraction of Rural Physicians Program in partnership with the local medical clinic to try to address a physician shortage in Ponoka at that time.

According to Mayor Rick Bonnett, who was a town councillor then, there was a a physician recruitment and retention committee in Ponoka, but the committee hasn’t been active for at least the past five years.

Back then, the clinic had been successful in bringing in more medical students and resident doctors, says Bonnett.

The town provided then, and still does, free recreation passes to town recreation facilities to medical students and residents who come to work at the local medical clinic.

“Access to recreation facilities can be an important quality of life attraction for new physicians when deciding where they want to work,” said Bonnett.

“The intention was to ensure these medical students and residents felt welcome to the community and might consider returning to Ponoka to practise medicine once they had completed their schooling.”

Although Bonnett says the town hasn’t been approached by the clinic requesting any additional assistance with physician recruitment initiatives, they are aware of the current challenges with physicians leaving the community.

“Physician retention and recruitment is very important in a small community like Ponoka,” said Bonnett.

“The town recognizes that and would be open to discussion with the local medical clinic if they wish to reach out and see what else we might be able to do to help.”

DoctorsPonoka

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta passes bill to give all workers paid leave to get COVID-19 vaccine shot

Labour Minister Jason Copping says Bill 71 will reduce barriers for Alberta workers to get vaccinated

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Alberta bill would protect health workers, care homes from some COVID-19 lawsuits

The bill proposes exempting a range of workers, including doctors, pharmacists and care-home operators, from being sued over COVID-19 unless it was for gross negligence

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Alberta government aiming to boost financial literacy among students

Government providing grants to organizations who will help design financial literacy programming

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

Most Read