The City of Warman could soon be down to one doctor after four of its five physicians recently announced they would be leaving to pursue other opportunities and gain professional development elsewhere.
“I think the community is very disappointed and upset. They are four very good doctors; they’re well respected and they’ve done a great job as medical practitioners here in Warman,” said Mayor Sheryl Spence.
Spence said the city learned the news in November and is in the early stages of trying to solve the issue. While the four doctors did give their notice at the same time, Spence said they have staggered their departures with the last doctor leaving sometime in late March.
The physicians appear to be leaving for different reasons despite the timing, she said.
“I’m not going to say (the timing) is not shocking because it is shocking for them to be leaving all at the same time.”
Two of the four doctors are moving to clinics in Saskatoon and patients can choose to continue seeing them at their new offices.
“And that’s good that that door is open for them. However, as a community we do want to look for solutions to this because we want our community to be viable and good health services are very important to a strong, growing community,” Spence said.
The mayor notes that although some doctors have come and gone, the city of 10,000 hasn’t historically struggled with retaining medical practitioners. Some of the doctors who are leaving have been with the Gama Family Medicine/Minor Emergency Medical Centre since it opened, she said.
But faced with the sudden turnover, Spence said they will need to come up with a plan in hopes of recruiting at least one physician by March. She said the city is working closely with the clinic’s owner and hopes to create a committee with stakeholders who can help attract doctors to Warman.
The community faces another obstacle in that it is exempt from the SaskDocs incentives. The government recruitment agency offers $120,000 over five years to new doctors who take jobs in rural areas with fewer than 10,000 people.
“It’s kind of an unfair playing field in my mind,” Spence said.
She said it’s important for community members to know that the clinic isn’t closing. However, if the city is left with only one doctor, it’s likely there will be longer wait times and possibly limited hours, Spence said.
“I think there will be a real interruption in service for a little bit of time here.”