What does it mean to be a rural doctor?
It means we have the pleasure of knowing you not only as
patients, but also as our neighbours and friends. We have the privilege of guiding you through some of the biggest events in your lives. We hold your secrets in confidence, counsel you through tough times, and share your tears as your loved one passes. It is our familiar faces putting you to sleep for your
surgery, and our hands that wield the scalpel while you are
under. We have even brought some of you back from the brink of death. It breaks our hearts when we cannot.
We are grateful for the ability to care for you throughout
pregnancies, deliver your children, and watch them grow from both our medical and community roles. We have been their judo and Lego League instructors, basketball coaches, Sparks leaders, swim and ski race supports... the list goes on. We want to be everything for this community, but the reality is that is no longer sustainable.
As of March 31st, the government has decided that the care we provide in hospital is worth less than that same care given in clinic - even though for us they are under the same roof. While it is rewarding to offer all the extended services we are able to in Pincher Creek, they do come at a cost. This work is what steals us away from our patients during office hours and our families on evenings and weekends.
Government has also chosen to cut a program that helps
physicians pay for the expensive insurance required to practise
in areas like obstetrics. We strongly believe in your right to
access safe obstetrical care in your home community, but at 100 deliveries a year our individual costs to maintain insurance
coverage is now more than we can bill for this service.
Consequently, our physician group has had to make some tough decisions. In order to continue providing the same high-quality
care in our office, all or most of us will be withdrawing from
hospital, emergency, and obstetrical services in 90 days' time. This extended notice is to ensure we can get our patients through the worst of this pandemic, and to allow AHS time to arrange alternate coverage for our hospital. We hope the government's promise of "replacement physicians" is genuine, but we question
where these doctors have been while we have struggled to
recruit for years.
Having physician input in health-care decisions is crucial to avoid unintended harmful consequences like this. We hope the government will not only reverse the changes they have made, but also sit down with physicians to find an agreement that
considers the unique needs of rural communities. With your help over the years, we have been able to build a medical home model that we are truly proud of, so rest assured that we are not done fighting for it.
Thank you for all the incredible advocacy you have already done on behalf of your health-care team and this community, and for your ongoing support through these difficult times.
In your continued service,
Dr. Cathy Scrimshaw
Dr. Tobias Gelber
Dr. Gavin Parker
Dr. Bev Burton
Dr. Tracy Burton
Dr. Jared Van Bussel
Dr. Ashley Rommens
Dr. Daniel Ruttle
Dr. Samantha Myhr