Friday, 04 August 2017 07:00

Cypress Health Region searching for physicians to fill vacancies

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The Cypress Health Region is looking for physicians to fill vacancies in two rural communities, but it is not an easy task.


“It’s a tough time of the year, because summer is not a really good time,” Cypress Health interim CEO Larry Allsen said. “Physicians are also taking holidays and trying to find locums is presenting to be a challenge.”
He spoke about the health region’s recruitment efforts at a regular meeting of the Cypress Regional Health Authority board in Swift Current, July 26.
Dr. Fanie de Nysschen, who was the only physician in Cabri, retired at the end of July. Two of the three physicians in Leader, Dr. Monga-N’Dimo Palangi and Dr. Mohd Hoque, will close their practices in Leader at the end of August.
The remaining physician, Dr. Satbir Jhand, and nurse practitioner Mikki Millar will continue to provide primary care services in Leader.
The medical staff in Leader is also responsible for providing physician and nurse practitioner services at the Eatonia Clinic, but that will not be possible under the new circumstances.
“When primary care was set up in Leader, there was a piece in that agreement that will have a physician come out to Eatonia,” Allsen said. “Now that we’re down two physicians, and we have a hospital that we have to maintain 24/7, we won’t be able to provide those services to Eatonia.”
The Cypress Health Region informed the Heartland Health Region of the situation, and the two organizations will work together to determine feasible options for the provision of health services at the Eatonia Clinic.
“So we have to figure out how to provide service to them and still maintain the hospital,” he said. “If we have one physician, it’s not going to be viable, but we do have a locum who’s going to be working in Leader. … I don’t know if it’s just maybe an NP (nurse practitioner) going to Eatonia. We haven’t really figured that out yet.”
The Cypress Health Region already recruited a physician from the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program for Leader, but the person needs to complete the program requirements and is only expected to start practising in January 2018.
According to Allsen it is not easy to start a recruitment process for physicians during the summer months.
“We missed the new graduates coming out of the doctor program, because they all got places to go now” he said. “It’s summer time and people on vacation, so SMA locums are already filled in places.”
The health region will continue with efforts to provide service in Cabri and Leader through locum coverage.
“It’s spotty in Cabri, but we hope that we can look at some options in Cabri to get a physician there,” he said.
It is not always easy to attract physicians to rural Saskatchewan, but an important advantage for Leader is that the site is a primary care contract.
“They’re contracted physicians, so they don’t have to worry about overhead and things like that,” he said. “They could just come out and practice. They’re guaranteed an income … and it’s an incentive in a rural setting when maybe your catchment area isn’t big enough, but you are going to make a living. So that does help with your recruitment, but it’s still a challenge to get people to rural Saskatchewan.”
The health region’s past recruitment efforts for physicians were successful and Allsen is confident it will again be the case.
“We’ve got a good person on our medical affairs that recruit physicians and he’s got a good track record,” he said. “He does a really good job and I hope we can find somebody for both sites actually. Cabri is a nice practice for a physician that wants to come. It’s not heavy, but you can still make a living out of it.”
Transition to single provincial health authority
The transition to a single provincial health authority continues to take place and Allsen made some reference to the process at the meeting.
“They’re currently working on what an integrated service area will look like, how many there will be, between four and six, and they’re still doing some consultation on that,” he said.
Cypress Regional Health Authority Board Chair Lyle Quintin mentioned he and Allsen were interviewed by the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council.
“They’re looking for some insight with the boards as to what the new provincial authority will need for training, for direction, that type of stuff,” Quintin said. “They’re interviewing all of the boards in the province and compiling that and putting it forth to the transition team.”
Allsen believes the outcomes of the work being done by the transition team will only become evident after the appointment of the new CEO, which is expected to take place this fall.
“At the end of the day the new board, the CEO and that senior team will be picking what that direction is going to be and then they’ll look through the recommendations from the transition team and all the transition work that has been happening,” he said. “So hopefully we’ll get some more refined things in the fall once the CEO is appointed. We should hopefully start to see things going down because the CEO has to be involved.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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