A recent survey conducted by the Alberta Medical Association has shown that 61 percent of family physicians are planning on leaving their practice, with 21 percent not expecting to survive the next six months. Airdrie is seeing the effects of this situation firsthand.
Dr Mindy Gautama practiced in Airdrie for many years.
“I practiced in Alberta for the past 30 years and 22 of those years were in Airdrie. I closed my practice in December of 2023. So, just about a month ago,” Gautama said.
When Gautama left her practice, she found it impossible to find a new doctor to take over the practice of nearly 1,600 patients.
“There's nobody to take my place; I looked for a long time for somebody who could take over my practice. Patients had to find other doctors and a number of them ended up going to Calgary,” Guatama said.
With doctors not accepting new patients and no replacements for those who are leaving, Airdronians have no option but to seek aid outside the city.
Alberta is at a disadvantage when it comes to primary care due to a lack of investment when compared to other provinces.
“When we look at other provinces like Saskatchewan and Manitoba, those provinces are very strongly supporting primary care. We are very much at an awkward disadvantage at this point because you've got the government's there saying, we recognize the value of primary care, and we are going to support it,” said Gautama.
Residents are encouraged to do what they can to help. Speaking with elected officials at all levels of government, asking what we can do to support primary care.
Airdronians can also join Putting Patients First, a movement advocating for investment in the health care system.
With doctors continuing to either leave the city or not take patients, the ability for residents to have a family doctor who knows them and their history remains out of reach.
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