Doctor shortage causes problems for residents

A committee is currently discussing solutions to address the lack of local doctors living in the Town.

The Town of Eckville is short on doctors.

A committee is currently discussing solutions to address the lack of local doctors living in the Town. The committee includes representatives from the province, the Town of Eckville and Lacombe County. The Town has been without a permanent clinic for around four years which has resulted in residents being forced to seek other health care alternatives. According to Eckville Mayor, Helen Posti, this has created a vacuum not only in health care options, but also retail opportunity.

“It impacts our drug store and we are even concerned that it impacts the bank because when you have a lot of doctors that see patients, that is a lot of people that come through your community,” she said, adding that local residents who can’t drive are finding it difficult to get to Sylvan Lake and other communities for their health care.

Currently, two doctors from Sylvan Lake are running a day clinic on Wednesdays for residents of the Eckville Manor in a room provided by the Town. In the case of manor residents who cannot get to these health care rooms, they are visited directly at the manor.

“I really appreciate that those two doctors are coming so that our manor residents have health care,” Posti said, adding that there are many other people that have health care needs in Eckville thus creating the necessity for the committee to seek other solutions.

Currently, the committee has inquired into whether the two Sylvan Lake doctors can extend their hours or days available. The committee has also inquired to see if other doctors from other communities can come into Eckville and provide service.

“We don’t want to alienate the Sylvan Lake doctors, because we are happy to have them,” Posti said. “The long-term solution would be to have a doctor commit to coming here.”

Having a permanent doctor in Eckville is ideal, however Posti conceded that this is a “pretty big wish” and that other problems arise from having one doctor serve an entire community.

“The problem with that can be that when you get one doctor in a Town, they get no time off.” Posti said. “They need someone to back them up. You need more then one, so the ideal situation would be to get several to come.”

Dana Kreil, Lacombe County Councillor and member of the Eckville Doctor Recruitment Committee, is working with Posti and others to aleviate this issue.

“We have been looking into several avenues of how to get some Doctor service back to Eckville,” Kreil said, adding that the committee hopes that they can work with other communities to set up a satellite doctor office in Eckville.

“That would provide some type of service in Eckville although realistically it would be limited service,” Kreil added.

The committee is continuing to seek out different solutions and Posti wanted residents to know that, while they are greatly in support of the Sylvan Lake Urgent Care Facility this is a separate matter.

“We very much support the Urgent Care Facility in Sylvan Lake, but that is something that is totally different,” she said, adding that the Urgent Care Facility is much more than a walk-in clinic and that Eckville residents are in need of day-to-day healthcare.

Kreil is optimistic that September will lead to “new ideas and renewed energy” for this issue and she welcomes any one who is affected by this issue to contact her at (403) 746-3607.

reporter@eckvilleecho.com