Kneehill taskforce honoured for efforts to attract doctors | DrumhellerMail
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Last updateThu, 11 Apr 2024 9am

Kneehill taskforce honoured for efforts to attract doctors

    Kneehill County and communities therein faced the issue of a shortage of doctors in the area head on, and have been recognized for their effort.
    The Kneehill County Recruitment and Retention Taskforce was named the recipient of the 2011 Alberta Rural Community Attraction and Retention Award. The honour was presented in Edmonton last week.
    “We were quite happy about it. People volunteer and work on committees and sometimes you do it without any recognition. It was nice to get that recognition,” said Kneehill Reeve Bob Long.
    Long explains that in Three Hills they saw a group of doctors retire, which left the community down to two doctors.
    A committee was struck with representation from Kneehill County as well as Acme, Carbon, Linden, Three Hills and Trochu to begin finding ways of attracting physicians. They were able to recruit one doctor, but not long after that, two more left. They did reach lasting success.
    “Over the last 18 months we have been able to recruit seven, physicians” said Long.
    He said the committee actively pursued physicians selling them on the benefits of practicing in the area and offered some incentives. They found doctors coming out of Canadian universities in Saskatchewan and the University of Alberta. The committee also attracted three South African doctors who were practicing in England.
    “We are really happy with what we have got,” said Long. “We went with these people and showed them our towns, we had representatives on the committee from the different clinics and offices in town. It was just a really good community partnership. We had to have champions on there who really believe in their community, who believe it is a really good place to live.”
    Long said these doctors could practice anywhere in the world. While winter roads can be a little dicey, he said the area has a lot to offer. It has a relatively stable economy, is close to a major centre and is a safe community.
    “Canada has a lot to offer, when you think about what we take for granted sometimes, some of these people don’t,” said Long.
    Interestingly enough, he said that often the doctors come from rural areas.
    “I was talking to one fellow about life in a rural community, and he said, ‘Bob I used to ride a donkey to see some of my patients in Nigeria.’”
     He said there were eight different initiatives nominated for the award.
    “The Kneehill taskforce successfully engaged physicians and the community, meeting regularly and working together to welcome new physicians, and to assist and appreciate those who continue to practice in the community,” said Rural Physicians Action Plan (RPAP) board chair, Dr. Clayne Steed, who commended the Kneehill committee’s balanced approach to attracting physicians in adjacent communities while supporting those already practicing in the area. “The RPAP’s vision is to have the right number of physicians in the right places, offering the right services in Rural Alberta - we feel Kneehill County truly reflects this spirit.”
    The Minister of Health Fred Horne and the Alberta Chambers of Commerce president Tim Bolton presented the award.
    The award is cosponsored by RPAP and the Alberta Chambers of Commerce and was created in 2007. Its purpose is to recognize communities that have developed “innovative and collaborative approaches resulting in successful physician attraction and retention.”
Long said coloration is the key for communities to be successful. He said there is still a shortage of about 53 doctors in Central Alberta.
    “We have been open to start some discussion on regional partnerships as well,” said Long. “Our strength in rural Alberta is going to be how we develop regional partnerships.”


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