ECA Review Reporter
Hardisty Council should be on the forefront in a search for an additional doctor, says a member of a local advisory committee.
Brian Betts, a member of the Yellowhead East Health Advisory Council, spoke to Hardisty Council during their regular meeting on October 18, 2012 regarding the need for a second doctor in the town.
Betts stressed the need for a ‘joint’ search between the town and the council.
“Hardisty should take an active role,” Betts said, stating that the town should take active steps to make itself more attractive to a doctor looking for a town to set up shop. Betts indicated a possible partnership between the town, Alberta Health and the Alberta Medical Association should be undertaken.
“It’s important for a town to show interest,” Betts added.
Many communities offer incentives to doctors to locate in their town, including housing, money and business assistance. Betts warned against becoming too reliant on wooing doctors with such incentives, as this creates bidding wars between communities and might serve to alienate existing doctors.
Hardisty’s health needs are currently served by one physician, Dr. Francois Botha. Dr. Botha has been approached about the possibility of another doctor in town, an idea he reportedly supports.
Betts suggested that actively searching for a doctor via a headhunting service might be beneficial, but advises that Flagstaff County’s Medical Recruitment and Retention Committee, which provides funding and guidance for doctor recruitment in the county, has to split its time and money between other communities in the county who have hospitals, namely Daysland and Killam.
During the Hardisty Council’s open house earlier in October, the issue of finding a second doctor was raised with mixed feelings.
“I do know it’s a hot topic with some in the town, but I know it’s not a priority for everybody,” said councillor Donna Buelow, referring to the lukewarm response funding the search for a second doctor garnered at the open house. Buelow stated that although a few people in attendance did indeed state that they would like to see a second doctor, none of the written suggestions solicited from the attendees mentioned using tax dollars for an active recruitment campaign.
Demand for a new doctor does exist, according to Betts, who stated that doctors in Wainwright, Daysland, Killam and Coronation see patients from Hardisty on a regular basis. Betts suggested that council approach the local doctor shortage with the same urgency that it would a public works or utility problem.
“Our town needs a doctor,” stated Betts. “If our waterworks were in trouble, we’d find a way to fix it.”