Efforts to find doctors in Smoky intensifies

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Efforts to recruit more physicians to the Falher-McLennan area are stepping up.

The Smoky River Regional Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee remains diligent to ensure the region has more than three physicians.

Recruitment co-ordi- nator Myrna Lanctot says another physician still plans to come to the region to work in McLennan at Sacred Heart Community Health Centre.

“Our committee believes the most important part of recruiting is the retention work that the co-ordinator does,” Lanctot says.

Dr. Lynn Hanekom, of Cape Town, South Africa, announced March 5 she plans to practise in the Smoky River region.

However, it could be some time before she starts work in the region after she and her husband arrive.

“A date is not set yet for their arrival as Service Canada has not processed their paperwork,” Lanctot says.

“Then she will be placed somewhere in Alberta for a three-month assessment period prior to her practising in the Smoky River area.”

Lanctot continues to be in close contact with the physician.

“As co-ordinator, I currently work with Dr. Hanekom and her husband helping with information in preparing for their arrival to the Smoky River region,” Lanctot says.

“Every physician that arrives in this area has different needs and requests.

“My work is based on each family’s needs and understanding of rural living in northern Alberta, Canada.”

Lanctot and the committee are also working to avert a crisis when one of three current physicians plans to leave this summer. She did not mention the name of the physician.

“That information is not released by the committee,” Lanctot says.

“That is the physician’s personal decision as to when it will be released.”

She says the committee appreciates the support from elected leaders in the five local municipalities who initiated a letter to Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Lanctot signed the letter as the mayor of the Village of Donnelly. Town of McLennan Mayor Michele Fournier, Town of Falher Mayor Donna Buchin- ski, Village of Girouxville Mayor Alain Dion and M.D. of Smoky River Reeve Robert Brochu.

The committee, with representatives from the region, meets regularly to discuss issues and strategies to recruit and retain.

As co-ordinator, Lanctot works with Alberta Health Services, which include items like site tours.

She also communicates with the Northwest representative for the Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP).

Lanctot applies for grants when they are available and promotes the local region to university graduates.

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