Deal­ing with change

Saskatchewan’s doc­tors un­easy about pro­vin­cial, na­tional changes to the way they op­er­ate

Prince Albert Daily Herald - - COMING UP - PETER LOZIN­SKI

Physi­cians in the prov­ince are fac­ing a lot of un­cer­tainty head­ing into con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions as the health sys­tem re­or­ga­nizes and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment en­acts tax changes.

That’s what the Saskatchewan Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (SMA) has been hear­ing as it trav­els across the prov­ince meet­ing with area doc­tors. Wed­nes­day night the SMA pres­i­dent’s and vice pres­i­dent’s tour stopped in Prince Al­bert to hear what lo­cal doc­tors have to say. Be­fore go­ing to meet with the doc­tors, SMA pres­i­dent and Prince Al­bert ob­ste­tri­cian Joanne Sivert­son spoke with re­porters about how the tour is go­ing to this point.

‘We go around to all the re­gions in the prov­ince and meet with our mem­bers. We’re a mem­ber-based or­ga­ni­za­tion and the best way for us to know if we’re do­ing what our mem­bers need us to do is to meet with them on their turf,” Sivert­son ex­plained.

“There’s a lot of un­cer­tainty right now with physi­cians in the prov­ince. We’re amal­ga­mat­ing into a sin­gle health re­gion, and physi­cians are in­ter­ested to know how that’s go­ing to af­fect them and their abil­ity to pro­vide pa­tient chair. We’re also … in the mid­dle of ne­go­ti­a­tions with the min­istry right now, and (there are) changes to the cor­po­rate tax struc­tures pro­posed by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. Physi­cians in gen­eral are un­cer­tain how all of th­ese changes are go­ing to af­fect them in the long run.”

Sivert­son said the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment pro­vides up­dates on a weekly ba­sis as to the process of amal­ga­mat­ing 12 health re­gions into one. Doc­tors, she said, are mostly con­cerned about whether they will be able to ad­e­quately treat their lo­cal pa­tients.

“They’ve seen it done in neigh­bour­ing prov­inces, and there have been bumps along the road and some strug­gles,” Sivert­son ex­plained.

“Physi­cians want to make sure they can con­tinue to prac­tice op­ti­mal care and be able to pro­vide care close to home for their pa­tients. They don’t want to see ev­ery­thing cen­tral­ized to the ma­jor cen­tre in the prov­ince. They’re mostly wor­ried about mak­ing sure their pa­tients aren’t af­fected by the changes that are go­ing down.”

Sivert­son is rel­a­tively new to the role of SMA pres­i­dent. She was voted in by her peers back in May. It’s been a busy time as she seeks to ful­fill her role with the SMA while also main­tain­ing her prac­tice back in P.A.

“I have been re­ally de­lighted with the feed­back that I’ve been get­ting from my col­leagues. Peo­ple have been ex­tremely en­cour­ag­ing and pos­i­tive,” she said.

“What we’re hear­ing is they feel like the SMA is on the right track for the most part. We’ve been get­ting re­ally good feed­back on the var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that we’ve been try­ing to un­der­take.”

Sivert­son said there are al­ways things to be im­proved upon and it’s im­pos­si­ble to please any­one. But as long as the ma­jor­ity of mem­bers are happy, she feels like she is ful­fill­ing her man­date. For now, she is trav­el­ling to all of the prov­ince’s health re­gions to meet with doc­tors there.

As the prov­ince shifts the struc­ture of the health sys­tem, the SMA is also con­sid­er­ing changes. Those changes will be con­sid­ered at the fall rep­re­sen­ta­tive assem­bly, and be tied to the strate­gic plan the or­ga­ni­za­tion is work­ing on. Of course, the un­cer­tain en­vi­ron­ment doesn’t make build­ing that strate­gic plan any eas­ier.

“We’re def­i­nitely work­ing win an ever-fluc­tu­at­ing en­vi­ron­ment at this mo­ment,” she said.

“We think this is a good op­por­tu­nity to try to make sure that what­ever we de­sign for the next three to five years will be flex­i­ble and be in line with what­ever changes are com­ing our way.”

PETER LOZIN­SKI/DAILY HER­ALD

SMA pres­i­dent Joanne Sivert­son met with area doc­tors Wed­nes­day

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