Estevan’s lone OB/GYN says a lack of patients is behind the decision to close his practice in October.
The Mercury reported earlier this month that Dr. Yusuf Kasim had informed his patients and those in the local medical community that he planned to shutter his practice, which is located in the St. Joseph’s Hospital Clinic.
In an interview Thursday, Kasim said he has and his family have enjoyed their time in Estevan but his hand was forced.
“I don’t have patients,” he said. “It’s been like that since the beginning. We thought with the anesthetist it would improve, but it has not improved.”
Kasim added that he is paid on a fee for service basis and because he is a specialist, he does not see patients with everyday maladies which means he does not have the volume of work that a general practitioner might.
He had inquired about the possibility of being taken off fee for service and placed on a contract, but that idea was rebuffed.
“We were talking with the ministry if I could be taken off the fee for service and (placed) on a contract but they feel it’s not sustainable to have a specialist here,” Kasim said. “(The Sun Country Health Region) discussed with the ministry if a contract was possible but they said no. It has to be fee for service and fee for service, I cannot sustain a sole specialist practice.”
Kasim said when he looked at the population of the region that Estevan medical professionals typically serve, he felt there would be enough patients to forge a strong practice. However after a slow start following his arrival, things never improved.
“It’s a surprise and I felt that after one year, if it had not improved it’s not likely going to improve,” he said. “A lot of patients in the region go to Regina and go to Brandon.”
Kasim said the decision to leave Estevan was not an easy one. He noted his family would like to continue living in the city but he also needs to “be able to put food on the table for them,” said Kasim who added he also enjoyed working within the local health-care system.
“I really enjoyed the community aspect and the working environment in the hospital.”
As of Thursday’s interview, Kasim said he had not decided on where he and his family would be moving.