July 20th, 2024

Council calls for update to physician recruitment plan


By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on May 15, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge city council has unanimously supported an official business motion presented by councillor Jenn Schmidt-Rempel and mayor Blaine Hyggen calling on the City Manager to update the family physician recruitment action plan that was created in 2022.

The OBM authorizes Hyggen to write a letter to the provincial health minister advocating for specific recruitment efforts here for family doctors and other physicians in specialty areas and that council allocate $15,000 from council contingencies for a refreshed marketing and recruitment campaign in partnership with Alberta Health Services and other community partners.

The motion states that having appropriate numbers of doctors and other key health care positions in Lethbridge is a priority for council and that the City has taken an active role in partnering and advocating for the recruitment and retention of family doctors for the past two years.

In addition to family physicians, the motion calls for recruitment of specialists in areas such as anesthesiology, cardiology, child and adolescent mental health, diagnostic imaging, emergency medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pain management, and for the exploration of additional areas of partnership.

“The City of Lethbridge continues to have an opportunity to play a role in the areas of coordination, marketing, advocacy, and partnerships, and promote Lethbridge as a great place to live and work, and continue to address the medical needs of this growing community in a tangible way,” said Schmidt-Rempel on the motion.

“This motion puts forward a pathway to update our 2022 plan and continue to move forward on addressing an issue that is a priority to our provincial government and our residents. Having the appropriate number of family physicians, specialty physicians, and other key health care positions requires collaborative efforts, and we continue to have a role to play in those efforts,” she added.

Outside council chambers, the mayor said many people are travelling to Calgary and Edmonton for medical services.

“For that reason, we thought it was of importance to step up as a community and although AHS – this is a provincial mandate – these positions live within our community so it’s important that we have a community that is a place they want to be so we are going to do all we can to recruit,” said Hyggen.

In the past, by working with the chief zone medical officer, more doctors have been recruited per capita here than across the country, Hyggen said.

“The recruitment strategies are done through AHS and through the Primary Care Network so of course, we just want to let them be aware that we’re in need of doctors within our community, those specialty doctors and they do know that – we stay in touch on a regular basis. However, every form of communication and any update that we can do to keep them always recruiting and looking for more doctors is of importance.

“They’ve heard loud and clear we’ve got a medical training facility that’s going to be opening up at the university which is absolutely amazing, said Hyggen adding there are hopes of retaining doctors who study at the U of L in Lethbridge and surrounding area.

“It’s an incredible regional approach.”

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Citi Zen

$43 million dollars for bicycle trails, and $15,000 for doctor recruitment. Shows where the priorities are, doesn’t it?