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

(File photo)
UPDATE: Parts of Sylvan Lake under boil water advisory

Town staff are working to repair the break in the Sixty West area

The Sylvan Lake and Area Girl Guides were out selling cookies towards the end of March in the parking lot at the Sylvan Lake Walmart, where their fan-favourite mint chocolate cookies were available. This weekend all members of the Girl Guides will be pooling their resources for a cookie blitz at HJ Cody and Wal-Mart. (Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News)
Sylvan Lake Girl Guides holding cookie blitz this weekend

Girl Guides will set up a drive-thru cookie sale in two locations: HJ Cody and Wal-Mart

The Town of Sylvan Lake is looking at amending it Land Use Bylaw to allow businesses to add a patio to their business. Last summer Lakeshore Drive was closed to motor vehicles and businesses were allowed to expand their patios onto the sidewalks, the amended bylaw will not allow for patios to expand onto sidewalks or roadways, but Town staff are looking into further iniatives and ideas. (File Photo)
Sylvan Lake looking to expedite patio applications

The Town of Sylvan Lake is looking to amend its Land Use Bylaw in regards to commercial patios

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Health Canada headquarters in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Health Canada releases guidelines for reducing COVID-19 transmission at home

Improve indoor air quality by opening up your windows and doors, among other encouraged ventilation measures

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Four provinces to sign memorandum of understanding to explore small nuclear reactors

Alberta government said in August that it would enter into the agreement to help diversify its energy sector

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a box containing doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, April 7, 2021. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
EXPLAINER: What’s known about COVID vaccines and rare clots

These are not typical blood clots – they’re weird in two ways

Most Read