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Kipling to lose three doctors

One new recruit on deck.
With a dwindling pool of doctors to court, filling rural hospitals becomes a large task indeed Kipling town council was told.

KIPLING — The community of Kipling will be facing a doctor shortage soon as three doctors will be gone by mid-July. Drs. Farshad Nokam and Shideh Faghih have been working at the Kipling Integrated Health Centre for more than six years but will be leaving the community in the middle of June. Dr. Ladan Ansari will also be leaving effective July 11.

“One of the biggest changes specifically for the Kipling community is going to be a doctor shortage,” said Amy Adams, Primary Health Care Manager with the Saskatchewan Health Authority. 

“All three physicians have given their notice,” she told Kipling town council April 8. “We do know that we have one SIPPA (Saskatchewan International Physician Practice) candidate that’s coming, he’s going through his reiteration period right now.”

Adams is hopeful that the new physician will arrive in Kipling possibly during the first week of July.

“We put forward that we want three positions coming, but most of the time we only get one of each reiteration period. But we’re quickly putting it forward to at least get two,” she said. “Once our SIPPA candidates go through their program, that’s usually a three-year contract that they have to fulfil. Once they’re completed those three years, they can apply to go anywhere in Saskatchewan, or reapply to stay.”

Adams shared that the problem of doctor retention is not just local to Kipling—and it’s about to get worse.

“There’s a huge number of physicians that are leaving the province this year, and pretty much within the next four months,” she said.

With a dwindling pool of doctors to court, filling rural hospitals becomes a large task indeed.

“It’s almost a case of how do you attract doctors when there’s nobody to even attract,” CAO Gail Dakue told the World-Spectator. “Our hospital was new in 2013, so hopefully that will be something that somebody will find attractive to come to a new place to work.”

One alternative solution for the time being could be the virtual physician program—something the SHA rolled out at the Broadview Union Hospital back in January. A long-term disruption of service hit that community in the summer of 2019 due to staffing shortages with emergency room services returning at a reduced capacity in May 2022. Currently, Broadview has physicians covering the day shift from 7 am to 4 pm with virtual doctors taking over until 11 pm.

“It’s been a success, there hasn’t been any issues,” said Adams of the Broadview solution. “With the virtual physician, it can happen a lot quicker now that we know more about it working with Broadview.”

Following are some other items of note that appeared on the council agenda during the April 8 meeting:


Age Friendly on the WHO map

A simple application will bring the Kipling & District Age-Friendly group to the global scale. Councillor Don Johnson, who is a member of the local Age-Friendly committee, told those assembled at the April 8 meeting of Kipling Town Council about how exactly this global recognition will come to be.w

It all started with a letter from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which is the national recognition component of Age-Friendly. That letter provided the opportunity to join the World Health Organization through a pre-approved application that essentially required a submission from the local committee to officially join.

“The information that is supplied to that application to WHO will go on to a profile page that will be on the Age-Friendly World website, along with other communities around the world that have been designated as being committed to Age-Friendly,” explained Johnson.

One requirement for the application is to have a contact person should the WHO wish to contact the Kipling and district board, which is typically held by the mayor of the particular community. Johnson suggested the contact person be Kipling’s CAO, which council approved in a motion.

The Kipling & District Age-Friendly Committee was formed back in 2019. It sees municipal support from the Town of Kipling plus the RMs of Kingsley and Hazelwood. Since formation, the group has achieved many items on their action plan, including public washrooms open throughout the community at seasonal facilities, parking spaces reserved for the Kipling Handivan in downtown Kipling, and having additional volunteer drivers recruited for the handi van in hopes to extend services. 

Once Kipling & District Age-Friendly is on the WHO website, the only major requirement is to provide annual updates regarding their activities in the community.


Telephone directory

Another project the Kipling & District Age-Friendly Committee is currently involved in will assist seniors with staying in touch.

“We continue to work on the seniors telephone directory,” said Johnson. “It’s going to be a single sheet of paper, double-sided, laminated. This is something that can be attached to the fridge for people that may not be used to electronic devices.”

He noted that while there is currently a business directory available electronically on the town’s website, there are still people who would prefer a physical copy of contact information.

“We’re hoping to distribute 250 of these out at least initially,” Johnson said. “We’re asking councils to consider allowing that to be distributed through the municipal offices, that it would be available there.”

He added that there are 525 people aged 60 or over in the area served by the local Age-Friendly group; 325 of them reside in Kipling, 135 in the RM of Kingsley and 75 in the RM of Hazelwood. While not quite finalized, Johnson noted physical copies might also be available at Willow Height Estates and Rudyard Manor. He also told council that the cost of producing the telephone directory is being underwritten by the local Lion’s Club.

Council ultimately approved the request to have copies of the directory available at the Town Office for distribution.


Uniform policy

Town staff will see an increase in their uniform allowance, something that hasn’t been revised since 2018.

“The amount of money that we have had on the policy for a while just isn’t cutting it anymore,” Mayor Pat Jackson told council. “Costs have gone up rather considerably.”

The town previously contributed $200 per employee towards safety gear, then another $200 for the purchase of steel-toed boots. 

A motion to increase those amounts by $50 was approved by council, keeping pace with rising costs.

“We pay $250 towards what they purchase in safety gear, so whether it’s a coat or T-shirts, or whatever, and then $250 goes towards the pair of steel-toed boots,” explained CAO Gail Dakue of the increase.


Community garden could end

The community garden project that began three years ago is on the brink of ending due to lack of participation.

“It was really surprising because it was something that we’ve been asked for years to start up,” Dakue said, noting that rising food costs and emerging from the Covid pandemic were two factors in the program being established. “Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem like it’s being used, so my recommendation was if we don’t see any growth in there, that we maybe would just look at closing the program.”

In the first year of the community garden, eight of 10 plots were utilized, but those numbers fell over the past two seasons. 

“We will keep it for this year and see,” confirmed Dakue. “But at this point, there’s only three out of the 10 gone.”

Plots in the community garden are leased at $25 per year, which includes water and the first till. New topsoil has also been added this year in response to user feedback. 

“I don’t know with the price of food, frankly, why people are not taking advantage of it,” Dakue remarked. 


Funding dollars

Joint funding amounts from the RMs of Kingsley and Hazelwood were presented to council as correspondence items.

The Kipling Library Board received $2,858 from Kingsley and $2,500 from Hazelwood. The Kipling Fire Department received $15,600 from Kingsley and $11,400 from Hazelwood (both RM’s share of a $60,000 budget). The Kipling EMO is split three ways with each municipality contributing $1,666.67 toward to overall $5,000 budget.