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

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Alberta RCMP urge rural residents to use online crime reporting

‘Crimes reported online will be taken just as seriously as crime reported in any other way’

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.’s Sheerness mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Coal mining impacts are already occurring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
As Alberta debates coal mining, industry already affecting once-protected Rockies

UCP revoked a policy that had protected eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb. TC Energy Corp. is planning to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
TC Energy cutting more than 1,000 Keystone XL construction jobs as Biden pulls permit

Some 200 kilometres of pipe have already been installed for the expansion

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read