Hearts for Healthcare continues push for more doctors

Source: Bonnyville Nouvelle

For nearly a decade, the Hearts for Healthcare organization has been striving to recruit and retain doctors to Cold Lake.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“Since 2010, we’ve raised enough funds to help attract seven of our 12 doctors to Cold Lake,” said Kim Coosemans, president of Hearts for Healthcare. “We continue to fundraise to replace outdated medical equipment, assist with ongoing physician attraction efforts, raising greater awareness of the healthcare services of our area, and support current staff to care for those who care.”

During the City of Cold Lake’s most recent council meeting on Nov. 13, Coosemans gave a presentation about what the city can expect for their 10th annual gala, while requesting an increase in funding for their upcoming year.

“We’re asking council to consider a contribution of $20,000 as a major sponsor at our anniversary gala,” explained Coosemans. “The funds would be delegated towards our physician recruitment program.”

According to Coosemans, “Physician recruitment is one of our top priorities as a organization. The process involved in the successful recruitment of a new doctor to the area is often more complex than people are aware.”

In order to bring a doctor to Cold Lake, Alberta Health Services (AHS) must first identify the need. Once that’s established, they have to decide what specialties the physician should require.

Coosemans used a family physician who is also an anesthesiologist as an example.

“AHS communicates these needs to medical affairs, who advertises the position. They sort through the CV’s in order to notify candidates that qualify for the position in Cold Lake,” she continued.

Interested candidates are invited to the city for a site visit and tour of the area. They will meet city councillors and other doctors who “boast what the community has to offer.”

Cooseman said they also explain the physician incentive packages, including the city’s loan program.

“This decision to accept a physician in Cold Lake is ultimately up to the candidate, and it’s not in our hands,” she noted, adding AHS currently has six open positions for doctors in the city, a few they hope to fill with the help of the council’s $20,000 contribution.

However, recruitment and retention aren’t the only things Hearts for Healthcare focus on.

During her presentation to council, Cooseman also outlined some of their other initiatives.

“Hearts for Healthcare’s mission is to lead the community to achieve best in-class healthcare through informed dialogue, inspired volunteerism, and innovative thinking,” described Cooseman. “The goal is to work together to enhance and enrich the quality of healthcare in our region.”

Over the years they have assisted with facility enhancements and community awareness, all while working to bring and keep doctors in Cold Lake.

Most of their fundraising is done through their annual Hearts for Hospital Gala. Last year’s event raised over $160,000.

“This money allowed us to purchase much needed equipment for our hospital. Our goal for this year is to raise $200,000,” detailed Coosemans.

Because it’s their 10th year in operation, Hearts for Healthcare plans on stepping it up a notch when it comes to this year’s celebration, scheduled for May 4, 2019.

Treasurer for the group, Bonnie Hankey, said Hearts for Healthcare is having to think outside of the box when it comes to recruitment incentives.

“We’re getting to a point, I think, where we’re going to be asked for better and more creative ways to attract doctors to Cold Lake,” she expressed.

Mayor Craig Copeland said the city has intentions of setting about $60,000 aside in their 2019 budget for doctor recruitment.

Coosemans explained how they were also reaching out to the MD of Bonnyville with the same request “in hopes of creating a partnership between our three groups.”

“Our vision is to create a collaborative effort in our initiative to recruit and retain the much-needed doctors to our community, and ensure everyone has access to a physician,” she added.

Council will decide whether they will include funding for doctor recruitment during their 2019 budget deliberations.