The practice of actively recruiting physicians will likely be a long-term, ongoing endeavour, according to the city’s Chief Administrative Officer.
At city council on Monday, CAO Wayne Staudt touched on the issue during the administrative update portion of the meeting.
Staudt said actively recruiting physicians will be a practice that likely won’t be ending anytime soon.
“You can look at this — in my opinion — as an ongoing project,” Staudt said. “There will always be doctors coming and going — an ongoing recruitment process is something that you can probably expect to go on for many, many years.”
Back in early 2014, the city joined forces with a number of other organizations to look for solutions to the doctors shortage in the region. It includes the City, the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce, the Regional District of East Kootenay, Interior Health Authority and East Kootenay Division of Family Practices.
“The city does participate in that, as do many other others in our community,” Staudt said.
City staff noted that Cranbrook has been, and will continue to be, represented in the recruitment effort primarily by the Economic Development Officer, along with members of the council.
They noted several successes, including the recruitment of three new physicians in six months, the hiring of a recruitment coordinator through the East Kootenay Division of Family Practices, and the establishment of a Red Carpet Committee led by Chamber of Commerce member Brian Rhodes.
The Red Carpet Committee itself held a meeting on Feb. 17 to review progress to date and look at new opportunities to pursue for physician recruitment this year.
Staudt noted the Red Carpet Committee is an ambassadorial program in which recruitment candidates are welcomed to the community and hosted by local officials and leaders from the business community.
“This process enables the candidates to get a good feel for Cranbrook as a community for establishing their practice and the committee’s efforts played a major part in bringing the new physicians to Cranbrook,” wrote city staff.
The committee’s efforts will continue into 2015.
Coun. Danielle Cardozo said the work has been amazing and is much needed.
“I’ve had a lot of people come to me and they don’t have a family doctor,” Cardozo said. “And for those who do have a family doctor, I know I’ve had my own experience of having to wait two weeks for an appointment.”
Cardozo brought up an online service called Medeo — a company that allows B.C. residents to speak to doctors through video chat.
“It’s not for if you have an injury, or something like that,” she said, but works well for something like a prescription refill.
“You can use an app and talk to a B.C. doctor online and get that prescription refilled, and they’ll sent it right to Shoppers or Walmart,” Cardozo said. “But then it frees up our doctors to deal with more critical cases and visits.”
She added that much of the younger generation is on smartphones and computers, so it could help to free up doctors for seniors, who may be less comfortable with that technology.
Coun. Tom Shypitka sits on the Red Carpet Committee and he said Coun. Cardozo was correct.
“These are the services that we are looking at implementing, as far as the Red Carpet committee is concerned, to free up doctors times,” Shypitka said, “Whether it be medical or social… lots of issues that take up a lot of time for doctors when they could be working on a new client.”
Shypitka said he attended the first meeting and while it’s a relatively new committee, there were a lot of good ideas shared.
“They happened to bring several doctors last year to Cranbrook,” he said.
Mayor Lee Pratt noted there is a lot of competition among B.C. communities for doctors.
“We’re not the only ones competing for it,” ” Pratt said. “Every centre in B.C. is competing for that.”