Hard work needed in MD crisis.

August 24, 2001

The Editor,
Medicine Hat News,
Medicine Hat.

Dear Sir:

RE: Dr. Ruzycki’s letter – Service failing at Hat hospital.

I agree with Dr. Ruzycki that there is a significant crisis in the medical services offered to the people of Palliser Health Authority (PHA). It takes longer to see a specialist than getting surgery done. For example, it may take up to three months to see certain specialist. But after you have seen one, you can get in for surgery within a couple of weeks. It used to be the other way round.

Alberta Health is not interested in the welfare of specialists in places like Medicine Hat. Traditionally, specialists here have provided round the clock coverage at great cost to their own health and family life. For obvious political reasons, Albert Health only cares about specialists in Calgary and Edmonton.

The solution to the problem has to be found locally. I suggest the following five points:

1. PHA should have a proactive aggressive recruitment and retention policy. Have a recruitment officer who can foresee future trends in manpower needs. Recruitment is an ongoing project and requires time and devotion. It takes at least a year to find a physician.

2. Specialists in Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Paediatrics, Anaesthesia, Orthopaedics and Obstetrics should have one more specialist locally than what they think they need. This means drop in income but a better life style and on-call coverage. PHA should subsidies the escalating overhead costs for these specialists.

3. PHA should provide resources (operating room time, equipment and other special needs) to accommodate these extra specialists.

4. Aging specialists who do not want to provide full time service should be asked to give up certain privileges or use of resources to make room for new recruits. This should be fairly applied and not selectively favoured.

5. There should be less talk and more action to find solution to manpower needs of PHA. None of the ideas mentioned here are new. These have been discussed over the years and even recently by medical staff.

As we know, solution to any problem requires leadership, hard work, good will and teamwork. The Palliser Medical Staff and the Palliser Health Authority have people with plenty of these skills. So, what is missing?

Yours Sincerely,

Noorali Bharwani

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