Beausejour residents are circulating a petition to try and get doctors in their town around the clock.
Right now, people who are sick or get in an accident on weekends or holidays have to go to Selkirk or a neighbouring town to see a doctor, which is several minutes away by car.
That time means a lot when patients are dealing with a major health event –- something Janice Cameron knows well.
Last fall, her father Ron suffered a stroke. Her step-mom called 911 immediately, but when paramedics arrived, they told her he’d have to be taken to Selkirk for treatment.
“There were no doctors on call in the Beausejour hospital,” said Cameron.
And when he got to the Selkirk ER, there were no beds. He had to be transferred to two more hospitals until he ended up in Eriksdale, a full two-hours away from Beausejour.
“I didn’t even know how far Eriksdale was from Selkirk,” said Cameron.
Cameron’s father survived, but other residents in the town are worried about the level of care in their community.
Marcia Mickey is the president of the Beau Head Seniors’ Group. She’s spearheading a petition to have the area’s regional health authority provide doctors every day in Beausejour.
“It’s scary for these people,” she said. “Some of them are elderly people up in their 80s. What are they supposed to do?”
Mickey said the current level of service is unacceptable for a town with an aging population.
But officials with the Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority say getting doctors to work the extra hours is a complex problem.
Right now, doctors in Beausejour work on a fee-for-service basis, which means they are not under a contract with the hospital and cannot be made to work on call.
“Physician shortage has been an ongoing issue here,” said Dr. Myron Thiessen, the vice president of Medical Service for the Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority.
According to officials, it could be an extended period of time before a permanent solution is found for the area.