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Letter: Changes to Olds physician privileges, representation needed

If implemented, none of the shortfalls...would have a negative effect on current physicians in Olds

I am concerned about the public’s access to family doctors in the Olds community. I have previously discussed the statistics. They are a great deterrent to allow more doctors to move to Olds. With more and more patients needing to seek medical attention out of town, there is an associated loss of business for the local merchants. This is especially true when the rural patients seek medical attention out of town as this visit will often be accompanied by shopping.

I would like to discuss hospital privileges is fixed at a certain number. The reason is obscure but the effect is that it prevents any other doctors in Olds from admitting patients, taking call and delivering babies. Rural doctors are rare and are uniquely qualified with extra training in emergency and obstetrics. These are updated regularly. Doctors coming to rural areas want to use these skills and keep them up to date. The shifts are too long and tiring. (Leads to frumpy staff and possible errors. Exhausted doctors driving to and from the hospital are dangerous).

Granting hospital and obstetric privileges to every doctor who wants them as well as correcting the number of patients to doctor ratio would then allow the region to ask Alberta Health Services (AHS) to advertise an AHS position or positions. This help would greatly improve Olds’ ability to attract doctors to town.

In Olds, if two physicians are married or living together as two physicians, only one physician is required to take call. This arrangement should be considered to allow more physicians to have privileges.

In May 2015, Olds was removed from the list of towns that was allowed to recruit foreign-trained, qualified physicians despite Olds having many foreign-trained physicians practicing here. This ruling has severely restricted applicants wanting to come to Olds. I am suggesting that Olds be allowed to recruit foreign medical graduates.

Dr. Rollie Nichol from AHS was appointed to review the medical staff situation in Olds. He recommended the appointment of an independent medical staff director. Olds needs to have an independent medical staff director appointed to represent all the physicians in Olds to the Red Deer region.

Since moving to Olds in 1971, I have had the privilege of chairing the medical staff meetings and the clinic meetings for many years. Whenever a controversial motion was to be finally voted on, you could count on a quiet question being asked, just before the vote, by Dr. Wray. His question was: “How does this benefit our patients?” Many motions were lost or changed with the consideration of this question and replaced by motions that benefited the patients. Is this question being asked now? Dr. Wray has retired and is not able to pose his important question.

I appreciate and am encouraged by the response from the citizens of our community and surrounding areas.

Many of you have noted that there was an error in recording the email to use to contact me. The email should have read I would encourage all who are interested to write The Albertan, email at the above address, email Dr. Jennifer Bestard (Red Deer Regional director) at and write to Jason Copping in Edmonton as the minister of Health. Everyone should undertake to communicate especially with Dr. Bestard and the minister. In your emails and letters ask them to implement the changes with which you agree or not. I consider this emailing and letter writing to be very, very important.

If implemented, none of the shortfalls that I have discussed in my letters and interviews would have a negative effect on current physicians in Olds. In my opinion, all the doctors and the community would greatly benefit.

Mr. Smith: I have kept my promise that I made in Grade 9.

Clarence Graff MD,