Pincher Creek doctors still planning to withdraw services Oct. 31

Some physicians at Pincher Creek Health Centre say nothing has changed when it comes to the dispute between rural doctors and the Alberta government.

Nine doctors agreed this summer to delay their withdrawal of services from the local hospital at the request of the community, mayor and town council, when it became clear Alberta Health Services could not replace them.

Read more: Pincher Creek doctor calls out AHS, Alberta health minister for misinformation, lack of support

“Our original date was for July 31,” Dr. Sam Mhyr said. “The 90-day extension that our mayor and town council asked for… would be around Oct. 31.”

Since that time, Myhr says the mayor and council have asked the doctors to take a step back and have taken over communication with the minister of health. 

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“They saw that things weren’t really getting resolved in any sort of discussion between us and the government or the AMA and the government, and so they said, ‘We’ll try,’” Mhyr said.

Click to play video 'Tensions between Alberta doctors and Health Minister Tyler Shandro continue to escalate' Tensions between Alberta doctors and Health Minister Tyler Shandro continue to escalate

Tensions between Alberta doctors and Health Minister Tyler Shandro continue to escalate

“My understanding is that they have met virtually once with the minister, and at that meeting he promised to come out for a site visit.”

Mhyr says they haven’t heard any plans for that visit yet.

“There’s no moving forward without some understanding of the unique challenges that rural [practitioners] face,” Mhyr said.

“We tried to impress upon him that rural [physicians] can help with the surgical initiative and things like that. We can take some of the backlog off the cities, and we just need to make sure that physicians are staying here and want to come here and right now that’s the big issue.”

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Read more: Doctors at Pincher Creek Health Centre withdraw from hospital duties

Global News reached out to the minister’s office to ask when that visit might occur. A spokesperson said the minister is waiting to hear from the mayor’s office about when that date can be set.

In the meantime, Myhr and the eight other Pincher Creek physicians are still set to withdraw hospital services at the end of the month and say they don’t know how AHS plans to replace them.

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