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Small Alberta town wants more doctors to support community


February 21, 2014
By The Canadian Press

SLAVE LAKE, Alta. — The mayor of a town northwest of Edmonton is asking the Alberta government for more support in providing needed health practitioners in his community of 11,000 people.

Alberta Health Minister Fred Horne, however, says Slave Lake, Alta., has "more than enough" resources to provide health care to residents.

About 200 people packed a public meeting in Slave Lake this week to talk
about health care after four physicians handed in their resignations
late last year.

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Horne says there are currently four physicians
working in the community, and there are two more doctors from outside
the town who visit Slave Lake to see patients.

Alberta Health Services says there are also seven nurse practitioners working in the community.

But Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman says it's simply not enough.

He
says not only does the community need doctors, it needs
anesthesiologists and specialists for patients needing services like
ultrasounds and dialysis.

"We're a young community. The median
age is 31. Lots of families, lots of young children. And these babies
aren't born in our community, very few of them are," Warman said.

First-time mother-to-be Makala Matchett says she's had to go outside Slave Lake to get an ultrasound.

"I've been told we have the equipment for it, but we don't have the physicians for it."

Matchett was one of many voicing concerns over the doctor shortage in Slave Lake Wednesday night.

"Over the years it's totally downgraded and it's making me worried," she explained.

Horne
maintains there is no critical shortage in the town, but says the
province is currently working to recruit two more doctors, a general
practice anesthetist, and a general practice obstetrician to help
perform C-sections.

"There are more than enough resources to
continue to provide the level of care that we need. Does the community
need some additional physicians? Absolutely. And, as I said, there are
two being recruited right now," Horne added.

Matchett says it
will be too late for her, though. And at 39 weeks pregnant, she says the
thought of travelling is just an added stress.

"When I go into
labour I'm going to have to try and get to St. Albert as fast as I can,
so that's going to be another stress of mine," she said. "I kind of
don't really want to live here anymore if I have to travel 2 1/2 hours
away."


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