A senior living in Warman says although her doctor isn’t leaving the community, many of her elderly friends will be without a physician come April.
That’s when the last of four doctors is expected to leave the Gama Family Medicine/Minor Emergency Medical Centre after giving their notices in November. Two of the doctors are moving to Saskatoon according to Mayor Sheryl Spence.
“People are frightened because a lot of us are unable to get to Saskatoon to doctors. You have to be able to find a doctor in Saskatoon,” Eleanor Painter told CKOM News.
The 80-year-old said she knows how difficult it can be for seniors who can’t drive to get to the city for appointments. She explained how she wound up spending $70 every time she had to commute to Saskatoon.
Painter said many people will be left without medical care if more doctors aren’t hired soon. And she believes the community deserves to know why four of the city’s five doctors gave their resignation notices at the same time.
“I find it just quite unusual that four doctors should announce that they are leaving. I find it very strange,” Painter said.
Clinic owner unaware if doctors were disgruntled
The clinic’s owner, Dr. Madhuri Singh, said like any clinic, there were issues in the past. But she said she always tried to work things out with her staff.
“When you’re running something like this you’re always going to have problems; you can’t please everybody. But I don’t think that they are leaving because of that. I cannot comment on this because you’d have to ask them directly why they’re leaving,” she said.
“What I was told is that they are finding it very difficult with a young family to commute to Warman.”
This was also their first job according to Singh, with some having worked at the clinic since she opened it in 2009.
Singh said she has been on her own to recruit doctors from the beginning, without any help.
“I am trying hard to get this to continue but you have to understand how difficult it is to recruit doctors. It is almost next to impossible,” she said, adding that before she built the clinic, there weren’t many doctors in Warman.
“Everybody is up in arms now, but for six years I never got any kind of acknowledgment that ‘oh Dr. Singh, you did a good job here providing service to the people, thank you for doing this’ neither from the community nor from the (City) of Warman. I actually had no help whatsoever, nothing,” she said.
Singh does not work out of the Warman clinic because she runs a practice in Saskatoon. She is unable to help out at Gama Family Medicine in the short term because she is currently on sick leave.
But Singh said she has been working extremely hard to recruit more doctors and will continue doing so with the hopes of having another physician in place before April. Although it has been reported that four doctors are leaving, Singh said Dr. Evan Franko will actually be staying on part-time.
It is difficult to attract physicians to Warman because the city is seen as a “no man’s land” with few incentives, Singh said. She points out that it’s also hard to retain new family doctors who generally don’t like to be tied down to one clinic.
Painter, a former health care worker herself, still worries about the future of medical care in Warman.
“You can’t force doctors to come to a community,” she said. “I keep thinking ‘oh my goodness, I spent all my adult working years looking after patients and now when it’s my turn, there isn’t going to be anyone to look after me.”