St. Joseph’s Hospital continues to move forward with its efforts to recruit physicians and retain the medical doctors that it currently has.
Executive director Greg Hoffort said they are continuing to try to bring more physicians to the community, even though they have already brought six to Estevan in 2018.
“We couldn’t be happier with the quality of physicians we have secured for our community this year, but truly recruiting never totally stops,” said Hoffort.
Estevan currently has 16 physicians, including two that have specific specialists. One is in gynecology/obstetrics and the other is in surgery. The other 14 see patients, and some have side specialties such as general surgery, emergency skills or anesthesiology.
At one point this year, Estevan was down to nine physicians.
“It’s a pretty solid mix we have right now,” said Hoffort. “We have to solve our anesthesiology coverage piece, for sure, but … we’re quite pleased with the progress.”
The only physician licensed to perform anesthesiology, Dr. Anthony Davies, left the city in June. They have had an anesthesiologist locum practising in Estevan in the last few weeks, who has done a great job of bridging the gap while actively recruiting for others.
A couple of their new family physician recruits who came through the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment program have anesthesiology skills, but since they were recruited as family physicians, that’s their focus right now.
“We’re hoping down the road that pays some dividends, and we’ll expand their services a little bit, but right now we have the one fellow carrying the load, and we’re actively looking,” said Hoffort.
They might not have ads posted around the world, but they are always looking.
“Some of our referrals might come from other physicians that we have here, and any one of a number of ways,” said Hoffort.
Estevan has seen physicians leave the community in the past, so they might lose a few doctors, which is why Hoffort said it is important to have 15 or 16 physicians. It gives the city a comfortable number and a little bit of breathing room should one or two leave.
“We’re not immediately in a crisis. It gives us a chance to respond. We’re always concerned and always looking for physicians that would fit Estevan well.”
Hoffort expects there will be an announcement in the new year of new physicians coming to the community.
Physician retention also remains a big focus, with efforts from the community and the hospital foundation.
“We find several of our several of our new physicians have really integrated nicely into the community, whether that’s a church of one sort or another, or who knows where, but we try to get the memberships to different recreation facilities, and get them out to different events and activities,” said Hoffort.
Hoffort has not received any reports of physicians leaving the community. There will always be rumours to that effect, and that could change at some point. But none have confirmed a departure.