Pincher Creek mayor worries hospital service will be interrupted as deadline looms to replace doctors

The mayor of Pincher Creek, Alta., is growing increasingly worried that the Alberta government will not keep its promise that services won't be interrupted at the town's hospital, nearly two months after all nine of the local family doctors withdrew their hospital services amid a provincewide dispute over UCP cuts to physician funding.

All 9 local doctors withdrew hospital services after UCP government cut physician funding

Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg says he has still not seen a plan from the province for how the local hospital will function after the town's physicians stop working there. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

The mayor of Pincher Creek, Alta., is growing increasingly worried about the future of his town's hospital with a deadline looming to find doctors to work there.

Pincher Creek is one of a number of communities where doctors are withdrawing services after months of strained relations with the provincial UCP government over changes to how the physicians are remunerated.

Nearly two months after all nine of the town's family doctors announced they would stop providing care in the hospital as of Aug. 1, it is still unclear how health officials plan to fill the void, says Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg.

"Haven't seen a plan. They keep making statements but they haven't guaranteed us if we're going to have the full hospital services we have here right now if this goes sideways. And they can't tell us where and who is coming and what that looks like," he said.

An emergency room sign is pictured in this file photo. Nine of Pincher Creek's family doctors will stop providing care in the hospital as of Aug. 1. (CBC)

Anderberg says he's worried the province won't live up to its commitment that there will be no interruption in hospital care and that patients might have to be moved elsewhere.

An Alberta Health Services memo dated June 16 advertises an "urgent need" for temporary doctors at the Pincher Creek hospital in August. 

In a statement to CBC News, AHS says it can bring in physicians from elsewhere and is working to reduce the risk of a disruption in ER and inpatient care at the Pincher Creek Health Centre.

Dr. Samantha Myhr, one of the Pincher Creek doctors giving up her hospital privileges, says the group met with AHS last week and was told officials had just started looking for replacement doctors.

"Given that they haven't been looking for the past six weeks, it's unlikely that they're going to find coverage for all these services," she said.

"So now it will probably be piecemeal emergency coverage, if anything. We'll have to transfer all of our inpatients if we don't have anybody looking after them in the hospital."

With files from Jennifer Lee


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