Check-ups on hold at clinic

by Phil Ambroziak

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a recent change in provider availability at the clinic in Meadow Lake could result in patients stocking up on enough apples to last them all summer long.

The Meadow Lake Primary Health Care Centre announced it will not be booking annual or routine check-ups for patients throughout the summer months because of the community’s ongoing doctor shortage.

“We’re short quite a few physicians,” noted clinic manager Audrey Park. “Dr. Jolene Titus passed away earlier this year and her position has yet to be filled. Meanwhile, Dr. Aimee Seguin is away on maternity leave and, although there is a physician to fill in for her procedures at the hospital, there’s no one to replace her at the clinic.”

Park also said Dr. Tshimanga (Willy) Kalala will be leaving the community at the end of this month while Dr. Andrey Babkis is currently absent for personal reasons.

Park went on to say, if patients are willing to forego routine appointments for the next few months, it would greatly improve patient flow at the clinic until such time as the number of available doctors is back to where it needs to be.

In spite of this, Meadow Lake resident Olga Pylot said she’s not pleased with the clinic’s decision or with the ongoing doctor shortage as a whole.

“They can’t seem to keep doctors here and I don’t know why,” Pylot said while waiting for a prescription to be filled at a local pharmacy. “The minute you get to know them, they’re gone. And, not booking routine appointments for two months could certainly mean a lot to the health of some people.”

Currently, the Prairie North Regional Health Authority is actively recruiting permanent doctors. In the meantime, based on provider availability, walk-in appointments at the clinic will be assessed for urgent concerns and prescription renewals.

“Hopefully we’ll have more doctors soon – whether they’re new or returning,” Park said. “However, there are other providers here who are available to assist patients.”

Park said primary health care nurses are on hand to assist with prescription renewals, suture removal, injections and chronic disease concerns.

“We also offer a walk-in sexual health service with public health nurses available to provide counselling,” she said. “There are a lot of different ways to still get your full complement of health care services.”

She added, however, no official feedback on the change has been given to the clinic from patients.


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