Editorial – We have all failed

Chris Clegg

The recent controversy over High Prairie’s Dr. Robin Laughlin wanting to hire a doctor who was refused hospital privileges at the local hospital is disturbing.
It is so disturbing Dr. Laughlin’s High Prairie Medical Clinic has taken to this newspaper as well as social media to rally residents to his cause.
In last week’s South Peace News, Dr. Brian Muir, Alberta Health Services Zone Medical Director for North Zone, in part said the following: “There is a consistent process physicians must go through to obtain hospital privileges. Patient care is at the heart of this process, ensuring not only that physicians are able to provide the care patients need and expect, but that the needs of communities are met.”
Let’s call it like it is. AHS did not feel this doctor was qualified. How else do you interpret Muir’s statement when he refers to “able to provide the care patients need and expect. . .”
Dr. Laughlin called the statement rubbish” and well he should!
Call the HPMC paranoid that AHS wishes to shut them down but after reading this one cannot blame them for feeling so.
That is not all. Eight years ago, Dr. Laughlin wrote several letters to the editor to this newspaper warning that AHS was trying to shut down his business after AHS opened the High Prairie Wellness Clinic. AHS responded a few times and denied the accusation. Local meetings were held regarding the issue. Nothing was solved. To this day, issues continue.
For eight years, Dr. Laughlin has fought to stay alive. He might be the first to tell you his Scottish blood will not allow him to give up the fight but we all know it is his love of medicine that keeps him ticking.
Meanwhile, most of the local population has sat idly by and did nothing. It has not been a secret Dr. Laughlin and his partner at the clinic, Dr. Pam Edwards, since retired, have been engaged in a struggle. Yet there has been no great outcry from local MLAs, elected councils, the general public and – yes – even media, to help this man.
For all the work Dr. Laughlin has done during his decades of service, he deserves better.
The recent outpouring of support must be somewhat gratifying to Dr. Laughlin, albeit late. Better late than never has merit but after eight years it must also be frustrating. Indeed, today, the struggle continues.
It is incredibly baffling how HPMC cannot seem to hire any doctor that satisfies AHS’s criteria. Given Dr. Laughlin’s record, does anyone believe for a second he would practise medicine with any other physician not qualified? No one is prouder of his record than the man himself. He would not associate himself with a second rate physician. Dare we suggest Dr. Laughlin’s standards might be higher than AHS’s?
It is time everyone supported Dr. Laughlin and HPMC in every way possible, not because of his past service, or because of the dire need for physicians in this community, but because it’s simply the right thing to do. For all of us!

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