NORTH BATTLEFORD — Concerns have been raised that many Battlefords residents will no longer have access to a family doctor with the departures of three general practitioners from North Battleford Medical Clinic.
According to a poster inside the clinic (a photo of which was provided to the News-Optimist), as well as from the clinic’s voicemail, North Battleford Medical Clinic are advising patients of Dr. J. Johnson, Dr. K. Lazar and Dr. K. Gorsalitz that “the remaining physicians regret to inform you that they are unable to continue to provide services for you as of Sept. 1.”
According to the clinic’s voicemail, the SHA has been “unsuccessful in physician recruitment for our clinic. You will need to seek out medical care from a walk-in clinic, another provider or go to the ER in the case of an emergency. Our current physicians are unable to accept more patients at this time and we will not have a waitlist. Once you have found a new provider, we will gladly forward your medical records to them.
“If after following those discussions or any discussions with the clinic staff you are not satisfied with the answers you have received, please call the Saskatchewan Health Authority at 306-820-6177 or your local MLA Jeremy Cockrill at 306-445-5195.”
One of the patients of the departing doctors wrote in to the News-Optimist to express her concerns.
“Previously if a GP left primary care, patients would still be seen by another doctor or the NP at the Primary Care Centre,” she stated. “This meant that test results, prescription renewals, referrals, etc. would still be centralized and tracked; however, at the end of August any patient whose GP left will have no access to medical care through the clinic.
“This is a serious concern for those patients with complex health conditions, people waiting for surgery, referrals and follow-up to cancer care, patients on disability or sick leave who require forms filled out, patients who require ‘controlled substance’ prescriptions which cannot be prescribed by pharmacists, walk-in clinics, and some GPs, patients who have been referred for MRIs, etc. who will now have no one to follow-up on any issues brought to light by imaging or other tests.”
According to the listing of Primary Health Clinics in Saskatchewan Health Authority - Northwest area, there are no physicians listed in North Battleford who are accepting new patients.
SASKTODAY.ca has reached out to Saskatchewan Health Authority for comment and they have responded with the following statement:
The SHA can confirm that two family physicians have left The Battlefords and one has recently retired.
Recruitment efforts continue to fill the vacancies. Physician recruitment/retention is a challenge across the country. The SHA and government are working together to address physician vacancies in Saskatchewan.
In addition to ongoing efforts to recruit new physicians, the SHA is hiring nursing support staff to assist the North Battleford Medical Clinic.
Patients have an active role in managing their own care by monitoring their health closely and are reminded that 24 hours per day, 7 days a week services are available; for emergencies call 911, nurse triage and mental health supports are provided by Healthline toll-free at 811.
Patients in the Battlefords may also be able to book an appointment with a family physician at the Twin City Medical Clinic (306-446-8440), which only takes same-day appointments via phone calls and supports current patients for day-to-day health needs (i.e. prescriptions, test results) while recruitment takes place to add to the existing physician complement in the Battlefords.