The Southwest Booster
Rural Saskatchewan continues to wait for healthcare improvements – SARM seeks legitimate solutions
The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM), alongside their member RMS, share concerns over the ongoing lack of rural healthcare support, job retention, recruitment, and operating facilities.
“Our healthcare system is under an immense strain following the pandemic and rural Saskatchewan is feeling concerned about every facet of the flow of healthcare services in rural areas. Service disruptions and aging facilities, alongside the ongoing struggle to recruit and retain critical health care staff, are ultimately leading to closures. Many without reopening dates are becoming all too common in our communities,” says Ray Orb, President of SARM.
The competition to attract and retain qualified medical professionals is particularly fierce. As the pressure on urban health care facilities increases, there is an equally dire need to support, maintain, and grow rural healthcare programs. SARM wants to encourage young families, and industries, to put down rural roots across the province, but can’t showcase health services as a reliable resource outside of urban centers.
SARM wants to do everything possible to support provincial initiatives to recruit and retain qualified health care professionals in rural Saskatchewan.
“We call for more opportunities for youth to aspire to stay in our RMS and have a fulfilling career in health care, we believe our next generation of service workers are in our own backyard. We should start the recruitment process in high school with educational opportunities geared towards Saskatchewan youth, which ends with employment based in their home communities,” Orb said.
“We must see post-secondary investment, so youth can have the opportunity to stay closer to home, plant roots, and receive the education they need to be successful in their chosen health care profession, with the incentives to consider rural work immediately following. Our provincial government is on the right track with their recent announcement of expanding opportunities for health care training, however, physicians are notably absent from the high-priority classification lists for rural Saskatchewan. That’s a miss for our members in large.”
“Where is the plan to expand announced urban urgent care facilities to rural areas of the province desperate for consistent, modernized, healthcare? Without adding healthcare facilities, we are asking residents to disrupt not just their afternoon for appointments, but sometimes days. We want our rural families to feel less burdened to travel extensive distances for medical care, not only for specialists but for basic family medicine. For many living in rural communities, they can’t make it work because of the additional burden of costs incurred like missed work, fuel, food, and accommodations while they are away,” Orb concluded.
SARM is asking to be part of the rural healthcare conversation. It will take a collaborative partnership with the government, along with health care partners, to create a wholesome, informed, and triaged approach to ensure the people living in rural Saskatchewan receive the health service and care they deserve. If we can begin to integrate modalities such as paramedicine, nurse practitioners, and virtual appointments, we can begin to see our rural health care facilities be utilize their full potential.