Calgary

Alberta looks to retired doctors to shore up response to COVID-19

Several hundred Alberta doctors could be brought out of retirement to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

'They're calling in, they're saying what can we do, can we come and help?'

Dr. Mark Joffe, vice-president and medical director for northern Alberta at Alberta Health Services, says many retired physicians have offered to help during the COVID-19 emergency. (CBC)

Several hundred Alberta doctors could be brought out of retirement to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
    
Because of ongoing concerns that the health-care system could be overwhelmed as more Albertans are diagnosed with coronavirus, work has begun to reinstate health-care workers who had left the profession.
    
Doctors and nurses are already offering to return to the front lines as the number of cases continues to climb.

As of late Tuesday, there were 97 cases in the province.
    
Dr. Mark Joffe, vice president and medical director for northern Alberta at Alberta Health Services(AHS), says retired health-care workers are asking how they can help.

"They're calling in, they're saying what can we do, can we come and help," he said.

"We appreciate those calls and we are in the process of trying to understand how we might make better use of volunteers and recently retired health-care workers."


    
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta has compiled a list of about 300 doctors who have retired in the past two years.
    
Once that list is vetted within the next few days, doctors will be called to see if they're interested, says college spokesperson Jessica McPhee. 

"Presuming that they have not practised anywhere else since they have retired from practice in Alberta, we would be able to reinstate them quite quickly — within a number of days, at most a week — in order to help physicians in this province," she said.

McPhee says because the doctors on the list retired recently, no further training will be required.    
    
The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta says retired nurses are being asked to contact their former employer — AHS or Covenant Health, for example — if they are interested in returning to help with the pandemic response.

With files from Jennifer Lee

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