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A list of Alberta communities losing doctor care

According to the AMA, 400 clinics in Alberta are laying off support staff or considering closing. Here are some of them.

As part of their efforts to balance the budget in time for the next election year, especially after cutting corporate income taxes, the UCP government cut over $6 billion from health care funding.

As well, Tyler Shandro, the health minister, refused to negotiate with the Alberta Medical Association to develop a new contract with doctors in the province. Then he unilaterally cancelled their contract and all negotiations, forcing them to take significant wage cuts.

And now the AMA is suing the government.

However, not all doctors are responding to the disrespect with a lawsuit. Some are reducing the services they provide. Some are even leaving Alberta entirely.

According to the AMA, 400 clinics in Alberta are laying off support staff or considering closing. Here are some of them.

Athabasca

In Athabasca, 9 doctors have indicated that they’re withdrawing hospital services.

Bragg Creek

At least 1 doctor in Bragg Creek is closing her practice. She will be leaving the province, citing a lack of feeling valued and supported by the government.

Calgary

In a letter to the health minister, 85 emergency room doctors in Calgary expressed concern about the effect clinic closures will have on demand in their ERs.

This doctor reported on Twitter that she was moving to BC to practice:

Kate Bisby, a family physician in Calgary, sent me the following message:

Canmore

A doctor in Canmore announced that she was relocating her medical practice to Calgary. She claimed fee cuts could run as high as 40% for some doctors in Alberta, which made it hard for her to manage her high overhead and deal with recruitment challenges.

Cochrane

One clinic in Cochrane is closing down. At least one doctor from that clinic may be leaving the province, and the others will work out o other clinics in the short term.

Cold Lake

Three doctors in Cold Lake will be leaving Alberta by the end of 2020.

Crossfield

The only medical office in Crossfield will close its doors on 1 September 2020. They cited budget cuts as the reason.

Crowsnest Pass

Crowsnest Pass apparently lost 4 doctors.

Edmonton

A surgeon and his colleagues in Edmonton will be shutting down the clinic they run at Grey Nuns Community Hospital.

A paediatric clinic in Edmonton claims that newly introduced patient caps means that they will need to send some patients to the emergency room—instead of the clinic—for service.

Fort McMurray

A family physician in Fort McMurray is reviewing recruitment materials from other provinces. Another announced that she’s closing her practice.

Grande Prairie

A family physician in Grande Prairie says she’s leaving Alberta after 31 August.

Lac La Biche

In Lac La Biche, 10 of the 11 doctors there filed a letter of resignation with provincial and local healthcare officials saying that they wouldn’t be practicing at the local hospital after 31 July 2020. One of the doctors is the hospital’s chief of staff and managing doctor. They cited government funding changes as the cause for their resignation, saying that the cuts amount to eliminating a third of their salary.

Lacombe

A rural family practice in Lacombe laid off 13 employees, citing government cuts to health care. This clinic had a partner resign, and lost two locums who were going to fill in for sabbaticals next year. The locums, recent Alberta residency grads, have decided to move to BC instead.

Lethbridge

In a letter to the health minister, 22 emergency room doctors in Lethbridge expressed concern about the effect clinic closures will have on demand in their ERs. After-hours walk-in clinics in Lethbridge have closed.

In another letter to the health minister, 4 palliative care physicians in Lethbridge wrote that recent cuts will hinder their ability to travel to rural communities and will limit home visits.

Medicine Hat

A maternity clinic may lose some of their 10 physicians. They cite fee changes as the reason they’re considering not practising at this clinic anymore.

In a letter to the health minister, 22 emergency room doctors in Medicine Hat expressed concern about the effect clinic closures will have on demand in their ERs.

In another letter to the health minister, 8 palliative care physicians in Medicine Hat wrote that recent cuts will hinder their ability to travel to rural communities and will limit home visits.

Okotoks

A family physician left Okotoks, citing unsustainable overhead costs . Two others are considering leaving Alberta.

An oby/gyn in Okotoks started the process to relicense in British Columbia as an exit strategy for leaving Alberta.

Peace River

A clinic in Peace River has stopped providing family medicine. The other clinic in the town has a waiting list of over 800 patients.

Pincher Creek

The Associate Clinic in Pincher Creek announced that 9 doctors there were discontinuing hospital-based services as of July.

Ponoka

A doctor at the Battle River Medical Clinic in Ponoka announced yesterday that she’s leaving her practice at the end of June. She didn’t cite the recent cuts as the reason for her leaving—saying that “an opportunity came up to do this training and the timing felt right”—however, she was one of hundreds of doctors last month who signed a letter asking for Jason Kenney to reverse funding cuts.

A second doctor announced that he’s shutting down his practice to move out of province.

Red Deer

A Red Deer doctor is leaving his practice to work in British Columbia. He also cited the provincial cuts.

A Red Deer surgeon is moving to British Columbia.

Rimbey

In Rimbey, 2 of the 6 doctors there announced that they plan to leave the province once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. One of the doctors said the last straw was the cuts to after-hours hospital fees. Previously, he was paid $38.03 for each of the 20–30 patients he saw during a 24-hour shift. That works out to about $31.69 an hour. The new fees are $31 per patient, which works out to about $25.83 an hour. He also cites reduction in insurance reimbursements as a reason for leaving, which used to cover most of the more than $8,000 he had to pay annually. The other doctor, who was trying to build up her clinic into a full scope rural practice, cited the changes to the complex modifier, which allowed doctors to spend more time with patients in an effort to adequately address their health challenges, particularly if they had multiple issues concurrently. Three other Rimbey doctors are considering leaving.

Rocky Mountain House

Rocky Medical Clinic will require patients with multiple issues to come in for multiple appointments, due to changes to complex patient changes. This clinic is short 4 family physicians, but that number will increase to 6 by the end of the year due to retirements; one of those retirements is a direct response to the government budget cuts.

As well, 7 physicians at Rocky Medical Clinic have given their notice to Alberta Health Services that after 90 days, they will no longer be working at the hospital.

St. Paul

Some doctors in St. Paul plan to pull out of emergency room service, and some clinics will close.

Stettler

Stettler saw 7 physicians there, who work at two clinics in town—Stettler Medical Clinic and Heartland Medical Clinic—say that because of the government cuts, they could no longer afford to practice in the emergency room at the local hospital. There are only 10 physicians in the town.

Sundre

Because of the changes to insurance I covered above, none of the physicians practicing in Sundre are insured for obstetrical services at Sundre Hospital. A family medicine resident from the University of Alberta, who was supposed to train in Sundre has to look for other options because of the closure of services.

Eight doctors at the Moose & Squirrel Medical Clinic in Sundre cancelled not only obstetrical services but also acute care and emergency department services at the Sundre hospital.

Eight additional doctors at Sundre Hospital and Care Centre have resigned.

Three Hills

A family doctor at the Kneehill Medical Clinic in Three Hills is closing his practice at the end of June.

Wainwright

At least one doctor in Wainwright is shutting down their practice, also citing government actions as their rationale.

Westlock

Several doctors has withdrawn his privileges from the Westlock Hospital and went on to imply that they might be leaving Alberta, as well.

Whitecourt

Someone reached out to me in a Twitter DM that they’re doctor in Whitecourt recently left his practice there. According to my source, the doctor cited actions of the UCP government for his decision to leave his practice.

In addition to all the vacancies these closings will create, for the first time in Alberta’s history, it has over 20 residency positions open.

Finally, the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association tweeted out a press release yesterday, saying that out of 300 rural doctors recently surveyed, 47% said that they’ve “been forced to decrease their hospital-based services by July”, with more indicating they’d likely need to do so beyond July.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on social issues and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him.

4 replies on “A list of Alberta communities losing doctor care”

As a senior in Alberta, this news of all the changes and doctors leaving the province is very disconcerting, to say the least!

Tyler Shandro and Jason Kenny do you see what you’re doing to our medical system!! Its hard enough yo get doctors to work in small towns in Alberta!! Communities have spent enormous amounts of time and money to encourage doctors to move to Alberta! Now with COVID-19 doctors and nurses are exhausted and you’re expecting them to work for less!! Its time—past time to back peddle and get to the table and get an agreement!! Your pre-election slogan was for “Alberta Strong snd Free”. You’re failing terribly! Especially in the “Free” ! You’ve acted like a bloody dictator since coming into power! Treating doctors this way is NOT right!!

Why none of the UCP supporters who voted Kenney IN (60% of Ab) because he was going to ‘Make Alberta Great Again’… are surprised , is totally beyond me. WTH did you expect? Furthermore, there HAS always been PHARMACISTS fully qualified to prescribe, send patients for xrays and blood work, and oversee our heath needs IF they choose, and ARE more than able and qualified to do so!!! This was made public some yrs ago to take some of the less urgent medical needs off Drs to leave more emergent issues the attention they need. It is also known that Ab has the highest paid doctors in this country. So leaving is sure not going to gain more financial stability, they will be facing lower pays and benefits no matter where they go in Canada. I I am appalled that those so fervent to have Kenney elected, have failed to stand up or have spoken out as much (about how he has totally failed and made kangaroo court out of Ab) as they had no problem defending, when Rachel Notley at least had this province progressing in all areas… (maybe not as quickly as you all wanted, but she had to fix 45 yrs of PCbs), not only for the oil and gas sector. Sometimes, you get what you ask for. Sometimes its a windfall… in this case, its a “screw all”. Not surprised. BUT if you ARE worried about your basic needs, try going to your pharmacy to ask ‘what essential health care and attention’ they ARE able and willing to provide. So you are not left hanging, and are able to keep your own health in check, fighting to get in to any of those overpaid doctors, or not. The best ‘doctor’ i have ever had- who was more than qualified, very approachable, knowledgeable, and always available for concerns… WAS a Pharmacist/Apothecary😐 and to this day, were she still practicing, i would drive across the province to see her. If you dont do anything it cant improve. Petition Ab Health. Make noise and make necessities the focal point of existence for Ab. Or sit by, silently, shaking your head, with no grasp if what is going to become of our health and wellbeing. It is STILL a democratic country…. unless everyone has just forgotten that, or got too complacent to fight for. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Start making more noise…. NOW… before its too late. There is a few yrs left to go… dont you see where Ab is headed? Not the fighting Ab i grew up in. The pathetic one i left… for obvious reasons. So disappointed. But not surprised- Kenney was elected as the ‘savior’ opposed to NDP? Maybe all of those whose ‘only care’ was what Kenney was platforming for.(saying what they wanted to hear?!?! He hasnt followed any of his platform for sure😠).. should go back and actually research the difference between NDP ACTIONS and policy( equal attention to every sector, and all concerning) and UPC HISTORY (only care for the corp., friends in high places, and creating a greater divide between classes… them high and everyone else low- 45 yrs prior. And obviously an add-on four yrs now🧐) A little late but better late than never……

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