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The City of Cold Lake discussed attraction and retention of doctors in Cold Lake at the corporate priorities meeting on May 16.

Mayor Craig Copeland is hoping to setup a meeting with seniors from Alberta Health Services (AHS) regarding the physician-patient ratio in the City of Cold Lake.

According to physician statistics, rural Alberta has about 130 physicians per 100,000 population in 2015.

Coun. Chris Vining did a quick math at the meeting to figure out Cold Lake numbers -- a community with about 15,000 people served by 12 doctors currently.

“That puts us at 80 per cent [of] 100,000. So I think the rest of rural Alberta is in a way better position than we’re in. They have 40 per cent more doctors per capita than we have right now,” he said.

Agenda documents from the City of Cold Lake stated the City has 12 doctors with one additional physician on extended leave.

Coun. Bob Buckle said he doesn’t understand how other communities are able to attract and retain doctors while Cold Lake isn’t quite doing the same.

“I know Hearts for Healthcare has been raising a tremendous amount of money and over the recent years the focus has been hospital foundation related stuff,” said Buckle.

The Cold Lake Sun confirmed with Hearts of Healthcare there is a doctor coming to Cold Lake in June and another in September. Both doctors are family physicians and the organization is working to get a full time OB-GYN to Cold Lake along with another family physician. The City of Cold Lake, however, is losing one doctor over the summer.

CAO Kevin Nagoya said new doctors are coming to Cold Lake, but the problem is retaining physicians in the community.

“New doctors and physicians have come in but the same amount has left as well and that’s one of the challenges,” he said.

Nagoya pointed out to a 2002 Physician Retention in Rural Alberta report by the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan. The report indicates the degree to which physicians feel welcome in a community and the collegial working atmosphere are two key factors in physicians’ decision to stay in a community.

“If that’s what’s the decision making [entails] and it’s in the report then one of those are falling off the rails,” said Nagoya.

Copeland said one of the subjects of discussion with AHS will be hospital privileges.

“Can docs come to Cold Lake and do they need to have hospital privileges? Can a person come in and operate and doesn’t need hospital privileges? So there’s these questions that need to be entertained,” he said.

Pickleball courts request

The City of Cold Lake has been receiving requests from the pickleball community of Cold Lake to incorporate pickleball courts.

Administration discussed various options for the City to incorporate dedicated pickleball courts in Cold Lake.

CAO Kevin Nagoya said the City has tennis courts budgeted for 2017 but not pickleball courts and letters from the pickleball community keep coming in asking for dedicated space for the growing sport.

Options included converting current rinks in north and south of Cold Lake or tennis courts to pickleball courts as a pickleball court is smaller than a tennis court.

General Manager of Infrastructure Services Azam Khan explained outdoor rinks can be converted for pickleball by resurfacing with plexipave surfaces which is a regular court surface and can still be flooded in the winter.

Currently, the Cold Lake Energy Centre has six pickleball courts and the curling rink at Cold Lake Golf and Winter Club can accommodate about six indoor pickleball courts.

For more information, read City serves up new surfaces for sport courts here

 Mamta Lulla/Cold Lake Sun