Martensville, Warman doctors and patients want help with physician recruitment and retention

Doctors and patients from Warman and Martensville were at the Legislature on Wednesday, hoping to shed light on the challenges they’re facing in addressing growing gaps in the province’s healthcare system.

Dr. Allison Adamus was among that group and has been a family physician in Martensville since 2014.

During that time, the community has grown but she said healthcare hasn’t grown with it.

She said they had to close their walk-in clinic due to low staffing levels and that by the end of the month, they will only have two full-time physicians and one part-time physician in the community of roughly 12,000.

“It’s difficult to do and we certainly can’t keep up with demand,” Adamus told reporters at the Legislature.

Martensville and Warman are classified as “bedroom communities” which means they can’t access programs to help recruit and retain doctors or bring healthcare services and infrastructure into the communities.

“We came today to ask that our community be treated equally to other communities of the same size in our province because we are the only two communities without any of those services,” Adamus said.

The opposition NDP is backing the group’s calls for help in recruiting and retaining family doctors in Martensville and Warman.

“The future prosperity of Saskatchewan hinges on the recruitment and retention of doctors, and under the Sask. Party they’re flowing out of the province faster than they’re coming in,” NDP Leader Ryan Meili said in a statement.

While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Premier Scott Moe said the challenge is whether Warman and Martensville should be classified as rural or urban communities and that they require innovative solutions.

He adds that it has been hard to recruit medical professionals over the last two years, but that that is now changing.

“We’re coming through that now to a time where we can get very ambitious and aggressive,” Moe said.

“That’s why you saw in the most recent budget that was introduced and passed in the house, you know very much a focus on healthcare recruitment, retention initiatives, how we’re going to incentivize these certain physicians and this may be a community where we need to have that conversation.”

Adamus said they have been asking the government for changes since 2014 and that the pandemic has only amplified that need.

“COVID has added additional pressures to everything and everybody across the province. We’re feeling it disproportionately because we were at that point before this even started,” she said.

Adamus hopes speaking directly with the premier and health minister will help them come up with a solution.