While Estevan continues to have a solid number of doctors practising in the city, news of an impending departure has sent local health care officials on a worldwide search.
It was learned last week that Dr. Yusuf Kasim has informed both his patients and those in the health care community that he is closing his practice in early November. Kasim is currently Estevan's only gynecologist and obstetrician specialist and his departure will leave a major void, particularly for expecting mothers.
St. Joseph's Hospital executive director Greg Hoffort said finding a replacement for Kasim is a high priority.
"It is of concern for us and it is number one on our recruiting list," said Hoffort. "And it's not a short, simple process. You can identify them, but if they are out of the country there is college certification and immigration issues and they just don't happen that quickly.
"We have some feelers out there and we hope that we can realize those and get them to the point where we can bring one in soon."
Hoffort declined to speak about why Kasim is leaving and The Mercury was unable to reach him before press time.
Although the eventual departure of Kasim will leave a hole on the local physician roster, Hoffort said that on the whole, Estevan still has a strong number of doctors and is always looking for more.
"We have ongoing recruiting and we have a couple of irons in the fire that we are pretty optimistic (about)," Hoffort said.
"It's a concern whenever we lose a physician, but having said that, we are a little ahead of the game to where we were a year ago and it's not to the point where things have to become a crisis before we spring into action. We are continually recruiting and as mentioned, we do have a couple of physicians that we are quite optimistic may be joining us soon."
While the hunt for an OB/GYN is an obvious priority, Hoffort said their other recruiting efforts are focused on general practitioners and if they also have a specialty, it's all the better for local patients.
"We have a GP who is also an anesthetist so that is of importance to us to keep that. We also have a GP who is a surgeon and those are a couple of stable physicians. But in general (we are looking for) good quality general practitioners. We want to stay in that nine to 12 doctor range. That can do a couple of things; first, service the public well and secondly, provide the support for one another so two or three doctors don't have to shoulder the whole load covering emergency. There can be nine to 12 doctors sharing that load and there can be a little work-life balance for them all."
Hoffort added he and the local health care committee are continuing to work with the Sun Country Health Region to bring a CT scanner to Estevan and although nothing is imminent, it also remains a top priority.