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Concern Over Lack Of Physicians Brought Up At Health Town Hall

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Concern Over Lack Of Physicians Brought Up At Health Town Hall

Dr. Trevor Theman speaking to a crowd of nearly 30 residents about health concerns in Fort McMurray // Jaryn Vecchio - Harvard Broadcasting

Lack of physicians, overworked doctors, and possible malpractice are just some of the concerns residents have about our health care system.

Representatives of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta were on hand Monday night to answer questions surrounding complaints about physicians in Fort McMurray.

The only problem, a good chunk of the questions were about the recent departure of Dr. Al-Naami, a pediatric cardiologist who decided to leave the area citing concerns of the on-call system and overworking. Unfortunately for some, CPSA wasn’t able to give full answers as the matter is being dealt with by Alberta Health Services.

Krista Gammon was one of five moms were started the Facebook Group “Fort McMurray Support for Health Care Improvement”, which started back in January.

The motivation to make the group came after the news that Al-Naami was leaving the area.

“Depending on your case, it’s devastating,” said Gammon. “A lot of people are really worried because not every family doctor will take on children.”

AHS has since spoken out about his departure saying four pediatricians are practicing in the community. In addition, two pediatric cardiologists often visit the area.

Gammon says their statement is just like a “band-aid”. It stops the bleeding now until a big situation were to happen where more doctors may be needed.

Registrar with CPSA Dr. Trevor Theman says two pediatricians are being recruited to come up North. However, he notes physicians are like “free agents” and can choose where they want to open their practice.

Though they couldn’t directly answer many questions, CPSA was on hand to respond to concerns about specific doctors.

“We can look at records, we can pull charts, we can get information from physicians anywhere along the sequence of events that happened,” said Theman.

Gammon believes that having CPSA here now will build a bridge to hopefully get the answers from AHS.

Other concerns which were brought up include the lack of specialists and patients leaving the ER, either undiagnosed or possibly given medication that suits someone older because they were too busy. The group didn’t want to call this malpractice but rather being overworked.

“I don’t think it’s intentional, I just think it’s the lack of help and support,” added Gammon.

Gammon says their criticism isn’t towards the doctors who work here but rather a cry for help before the area gets into a crisis from the lack of qualified physicians.

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