Municipalities asked to provide funding for maternity clinic

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SANDRA M STANWAY
Brooks Bulletin

City-county joint services will cover a bill from Alberta Health Services for services that are being provided to run the Brooks Maternity Clinic.
The $4,737 invoice states it is for staffing costs, “To reimburse AHS for the Brooks and Area Physician Retention Society.”
Dr. Erich van der Linde told the city-county joint services committee there are many things that need to take place regarding the maternity clinic including funding.
The costs had been paid by the Palliser Primary Care Network (PCN) but they stopped in the fall stating it was no longer their mandate, following fiscal restrictions and mandate changes.
“They decided they’re not going to fund because it’s not a primary responsibility to provide these services,” he said.
“If primary care is not about babies and delivering babies and pediatric care, then I don’t know what primary care is. A lot of our urban counterparts think it’s sitting in the clinic seeing patients.
“My concern is that if this clinic falls apart I’m very much certain we will disrupt our obstetrical services. I don’t think that’s what Brooks stands for.”
Obstetrical services were stopped in 2009 due to a shortage of physicians.
He said they do not want to ask the 10 or so physicians at the clinic for money for the privilege of doing obstetrics in the hospital.
There is currently $1.5 million of Brooks money being controlled by the Palliser PCN board which includes local physicians Vince Elgersma and Douwe Kits as two of the 11 directors.
There is a desire to form a local or rural PCN network but there is a moratorium on new networks.
“We’ve always been vocal and we want to spend our own money,” van der Linde said.
PCNs were designed to follow a team-based health care model.
“Doctors and health care professionals work collaboratively to provide integrated care for all your primary health care needs,” states the AHS website.
Van der Linde suggested that the city and county help with funding but he doesn’t see it as a permanent requirement.
“I don’t think it’s wrong to say there is a mutual responsibility to provide services in this community. Unfortunately, other people control our funding,” he said.
The joint services committee approved payment of the bill.
Community representatives will ask their councils for four-cents per capita per month for the rest of the year and to include it in their budget discussions.
The monthly request would be $48.64 from Bassano, $596.96 from Brooks, $42.12 from Duchess, $14.80 from Rosemary and $298.60 from the county.
County CAO Matt Fenske said municipalities should be addressing the PCN issue and funding with the health minister during association meetings this fall.
“I think some of these ministers that may be running for premier may have open ears at this time,” said city CAO Alan Martens.
Although the financial commitment wouldn’t be permanent, it would be for an undetermined time.
“Obstetrics is what everything revolves around,” said van der Linde.