Town of Bruderheim still trying to recruit doctor

Two years after the town of Bruderheim threw out welcome mat, hoping to attract a doctor, there are still no takers.

'I'm quite hopeful that things will come around,' says Mayor Karl Hauch

A new pharmacy opened on Bruderheim's main street on July 1. (Bruderheim Pharmacy)

Two years after the town of Bruderheim threw out welcome mat, hoping to attract a doctor, there are still no takers.

Anyone who needs medical care has to make the 15-minute drive to Lamont, or the 20-minute drive to Fort Saskatchewan.

Officials in the town of 1,300 are trying to pitch potential candidates on the small-town feel and country lifestyle.

"I'm quite hopeful that things will come around," said Mayor Karl Hauch, whose town is about 60 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

Pharmacist takes a chance 

In July, Ehab Mohamed opened the town's only pharmacy on Main Street. The building he's in has space available for a clinic. The work is now underway by town council to get the clinic equipped to help attract a doctor.

"It would be a smart choice for a doctor, because the city will be supporting him," said Mohamed, who has been working with several others to find a suitable candidate.

For some of Bruderheim's elderly residents, the drive to a doctor's office, especially in the winter, just isn't an option.  

"I think it's very crucial for the success of the pharmacy to have the clinic," Mohamed said. "I don't think it will be sustained as a pharmacy alone here. Because if people are commuting to get seen by a doctor, they might as well get their stuff from another pharmacy. But I think if the clinic is here they will think, 'Let's just do everything in town.' "

"I am very hopeful" 

The town has enlisted the help of an organization called the Rural Health Professions Action Plan to make a video showcasing what Bruderheim has to offer.

"I'm very hopeful that the right person will come along and make a fit for our community," Hauch said. "I think things will blossom once that happens.

Bruderheim isn't the only town facing this challenge. 

The RhPAP is trying to help as many as 90 communities across Alberta come up with strategies to attract physicians to their communities. In some cases, several communities in one area may end up sharing the services of a doctor. 

"Our overarching vision is about supporting communities, getting them support to get the right providers in the right places, doing the right things in rural communities," said Paul Childs, a director with the RhPAP. "We work on attraction and retention, we actually don't do recruitment anymore.

"We've seen communities do a fantastic job. When they have a physician and the spouse or the family come to visit, they'll put together a weekend of events. And it's just rural Alberta, particularly northern Alberta, it's a lot of wild country that becomes your selling point."

It's that kind of help that Bruderheim enlisted, and hopes will make the difference as the search continues.