July 15th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 28
Rally for Rural Health Care in Pincher Creek draws large crowd
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Source: website
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter

A rally for rural health care was held in Pincher Creek on June 30th.
The rally was held to raise awareness of the fact that currently, doctors in Pincher Creek are set to pull out of providing hospital services on August 1.

The Government says they will bring in replacement doctors to run all the services our doctors currently provide but residents are unsure it will be enough.

Some of the concerns are that replacement doctors are:

- In short supply
- Lacking the relationship with our patients that leads to excellent care
- Different people for different lengths of time (like substitute teachers)
- A band-aid solution which threatens the viability of emergency, maternity services, acute care and surgeries

This situation will cause lots of uncertainty and may also put the local hospital at risk along with the jobs of many community members employed there.

In February of this year, the UCP broke its agreement with the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and proceeded to push through unilateral changes that left rural practices financially unsustainable.

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Dr. Samantha Myhr is a family physician in Pincher Creek, and one of the leaders of the Rural Sustainability Group, who highlighted the crisis those changes have caused in rural communities, including 44 sites that would have lost hospital services by July.

In response to public outcry, government reversed many of these harmful changes, but Myhr states that without an agreement rural hospitals remain on the chopping block due to physician losses.

“If it was about money we wouldn’t still need this rally. Physicians are leaving because of the uncertainty and that hits rural communities the hardest.”

Don Anderberg, Mayor of Pincher Creek, says that the community is simply trying to raise their united voice and get something figured out between the government and the doctors.

“As a community we're trying to get the doctors and the province to sit down and at least negotiate and come to a resolution.”

The rally was well attended despite the poor weather with 230 cars taking part and other residents lining the street as well.

Anderberg is uncertain of what will happen next but hopes the rally helps spread the community’s message.

“I'm not sure what the plan is going forward but I've been doing a number of interviews these last few days trying to get the message out there that we're in trouble in Pincher Creek and around the province. We need to get doctors and the province back on the same page.”
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According to Anderberg, the message the community was trying to send with this rally is meant more for the government.

“The point is the doctors have worked under agreement with the province. We as a municipality and citizens of Pincher Creek really don't have too much say over them other than asking them nicely to do the right thing. Of course we should have some say over what the health minister and the premier do because we vote for them and pay their wages. What really bothers me is that they aren't talking to us. Nor are they talking to anybody else. When you don't get information the angst goes way up and it's just time for them to sit down and fix it. Really I don't care who said what, at the end of the day, on August 1st if we have no doctors in Pincher Creek, the people that need health care services are going to be in a bad situation.”

While this rally is a step to potential progress, Anderberg says without change, what the community tries to do won’t mean anything.

“I think it went fine but as far as rally's are concerned unless you get the issues resolved, what does it mean?”
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July 15th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. 28
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