Doctor refused hospital privileges

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A physician wanting to come to town and work at the High Prairie Medical Clinic will not be doing so after he was refused hospital privileges by Alberta Health Services.
It is the reason given by the clinic’s manager, Judy Johnston, who posted the news on social media Feb. 4 which caused a firestorm of angry reaction from area residents.
“Since 2014 the clinic has been blocked by AHS from hiring new doctors,” wrote Johnston on the High Prairie and Area Discussion Page.
She added in an interview Feb. 5 a physician agreed to come and live in High Prairie until AHS refused him hospital privileges. She was told the news Jan. 31. No hospital privileges means he cannot admit or talk to any patient in the hospital, and can’t help in the Emergency Room.
“He can’t help in McLennan either,” adds Johnston, referring to the Sacred Heart Community Health Centre.
“If McLennan ran short [of physicians], they can’t use [him].”
Three times in the last two months, Sacred Heart has had to shut down its Emergency Department due to lack of physicians.
Johnson says the reason given by AHS is their workforce plan has a full complement of doctors for the hospital in High Prairie, which she finds baffling. Years ago, it was determined by AHS that the region needed 14 doctors. Including Dr. Robin Laughlin at the High Prairie Medical Clinic, High Prairie currently has only eight physicians, says Johnson.
AHS’s decision is prompting Johnson and the clinic to seek the public’s help.
“I would like to invite anyone who supports the existence of Dr. Laughlin’s High Prairie Medical Clinic to call or email Minister of Health Jason Copping,” she wrote on social media.
“Since 2014 the clinic has been blocked by AHS from hiring new doctors,” she posted. “The first time [HP Medical Clinic] was told that six doctors in town was too many, so [the clinic] was denied a doctor. AHS hired four doctors secretly that same year.”
Johnston continued.
“We have fought to hire doctors and each time a new rule or reason is given as to why we cannot hire a doctor. When we hired a doctor who did not need to be pre-approved by AHS, he was treated badly by AHS, not allowed to work in the hospital, although he had done so many times before in this community. He left this community for High Level, where he got hospital privileges right away.”
She adds AHS appears to want the High Prairie Medical Clinic closed.
“We are concerned for our patients. This is not against the Community Health & Wellness Clinic or its doctors, we believe our community deserves choices. [HPMC] has been bullied and persecuted for eight years by AHS. . .”
Johnston is asking people for public support by calling Alberta Minister of Health Jason Copping at [780] 427-3665, long message, then voice mail at the end of it. His issues manager can be emailed at or contact AHS CEO Verna Yiu at [780] 342-2011, or email
For more information, please call Johnston at [780] 536-7441.
As of Feb. 6, 53 comments were posted with most promising to voice their concerns about the matter to Copping, Yiu.
AHS was emailed Feb. 6 for a response, which will be posted at when received.

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