$500/hour pay for doctors to treat flu

Alberta is considering paying some doctors more than $500 an hour to treat swine flu patients if there is a serious pandemic.

EDMONTON — Alberta is considering paying some doctors more than $500 an hour to treat swine flu patients if there is a serious pandemic.

The pay rate is part of a proposal being worked on by the province and the Alberta Medical Association.

It would apply to doctors who volunteered to work as part of a government flu response plan that would kick in if the health system were significantly disrupted by H1N1 or if a state of public health emergency were declared.

Doctors who agreed to work night shifts under the Physician Financial Support Program would be paid $518.45 an hour, according to a letter the association has sent out to doctors.

The rate for evenings would be $403.24 an hour and the weekday rate would be $259.23 an hour.

Dr. Noel Grisdale, president of the medical association, said it’s prudent to have a contingency plan because doctors could end up contracting the flu on the job.

Grisdale said in an extreme case it’s possible that 25 per cent of doctors could become ill and be unable to work.

If that were to happen, it would be important to have others step in at hospitals, including doctors from community practices.

“In a pandemic, health-care workers are on the frontline exposed to the virus and to the sickest people. In an emergency-type situation you need as many of those people (doctors) working,” Grisdale said in an interview.

“There is a component of incentives to continue to work and be there at the toughest times.”

The pay rates would be a significant raise for community doctors, but less so for surgeons and other specialists, he said. Details as to exactly how the program would work and apply to different medical specialities are still being worked out.

Doctors working as part of a flu response could choose to be paid by the hour or by fee for service. They would also be guaranteed a minimum payment during the pandemic.

Alberta Health is also working with the medical association to make sure that doctors would be paid if they became sick while treating flu patients.

The organization that represents 32,000 registered nurses in Alberta says it also wants to be included in the government’s pandemic planning, but hasn’t been consulted yet.

Mary-Anne Robinson, executive director of the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, said the province is already short about 1,500 RNs, yet they would deliver much of the acute care during a serious flu pandemic.

“Alberta Health Services has not been actively recruiting nurses. Largely there has been a freeze on hiring,” Robinson said. “We do wonder what kind of situation that is going to place us in if large numbers of nurses are ill or affected by the pandemic themselves and are unable to work.”

The United Nurses of Alberta, the union that represents most registered nurses, hasn’t been contacted by the government either, a union official said.

Alberta Health spokesman John Tuckwell declined to comment on the plan for doctors or other pandemic health-care staffing.

Tuckwell said the government continues to develop its pandemic contingency plan, but he declined to release any details or cost estimates.

Just Posted

Sunny weather improves farmers’ prospects

A harvester kicking up dust. It’s a picture that will bring a… Continue reading

Rural transit pilot project being considered

Penhold, Innisfail and Red Deer County councils to decide whether to go ahead with project

Red Deer fire station up for sale

Home sweet home at Fire Station 4

Most surveyed Innisfail residents give urban chickens the thumbs up

Town of Innisfail will discuss whether to allow backyard chickens on Monday

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Sky’s the limit as Calgary opens testing area for drones and new technologies

CALGARY — The sky’s the limit as the city of Calgary opens… Continue reading

Hi Mickey, ‘Bye Mickey: 6 Disney parks on 2 coasts in 1 day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Heather and Clark Ensminger breathed sighs of relief when… Continue reading

Court weighs ‘Apprentice’ hopeful’s suit versus Trump

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump’s lawyers hope to persuade an appeals… Continue reading

StarKist admits fixing tuna prices, faces $100 million fine

SAN FRANCISCO — StarKist Co. agreed to plead guilty to a felony… Continue reading

Annual pace of inflation slows to 2.2 per cent in September: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — The annual pace of inflation slowed more than expected in… Continue reading

Jury finds Calgary couple guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

CALGARY — A jury has convicted a Calgary couple in the death… Continue reading

Study of U.S. hospital figures links pot use with increased risk of stroke

MONTREAL — New research is being presented at a conference in Montreal… Continue reading

Most Read