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4 - PRAIRIE POST - SPECIAL AREAS - June 2013 Consort wants acute care returned to community BY ROSE SANCHEZ —

The Consort and District Medical Centre Board has been working hard to recruit doctors to the community and now that is has successfully done so, officials want to see acute care beds at the Consort Hospital re-opened. The acute care beds were closed in June 2011 when the only doctor couldn’t commit to round-the-clock emergency services. Community members were told that when there was a suitable base of physicians and nursing staff in place, the beds would be re-opened says Bonnie Sansregret, who is the chair of the Consort and District Medical Centre Society. “Historically, we’ve always had South African doctors for over 30 years and they stay about 10 years,” she explains. Recruiting new doctors for the community of

about 700 people has taken quite some time and a lot of work.

“In addition to the work done by Alberta Health Services, we had to outsource to a company in Ontario for recruitment,” says Roxanne Stillings, Consort’s deputy mayor. The community also set up a dynamic webpage ( http://www.ruralphysicianopportunities At the end of May, society members met with Alberta Health Services (AHS) officials about the new business plan being put forward by AHS. “They assured us we’re on the top of the list for discussions on our acute care beds, but there was no date when that meeting would be set,” explained Stillings. The communities of Castor, Coronation and Consort have also been slated to receive a Family Care Clinic as announced by government earlier this month.

As it is currently, individuals in an emergency

situation in Consort and surrounding area have to travel upwards of an hour to Coronation, Castor, Provost,Wainwright, or Oyen. “It could take an hour even to get (an ambulance) to the scene,” says Sansregret.

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This is the acute care area of the Consort Hospital. Residents want to see these beds re-opened for use. The society would like to see an end to the hub-and-

spoke model adopted by AHS. “The hub and spoke only helps the hub really,” points out Sansregret. Stillings says it may work in communities where access to a larger centre is only 10 or 15 minutes away.

“It does not work for rural or remote Alberta,” said Sansregret. “People around here, really men and women, work on the front lines. Agriculture and gas is a big part of our economy and that’s why acute care and emergency is so important here.” Consort residents are looking forward to finally

having two full-time physicians in place even if the acute care beds are not yet opened. The community

pulled together to make recruitment a success. Most of the interviews were done over the phone,

but a few candidates did visit the small community. If it was a husband and wife combination, town officials made sure the spouse felt as included as possible in the tour and welcomed to the community. Visits were often done over two or three days with a lot of planning around a community function and tours of the amenities offered. Community welcoming dinners would see upwards of 200 people in attendance. “It’s become an all encompassing job over the last

three or four years,” says Stillings, about the physician recruitment process.

Continued on Page 5

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