More tourists appear to be flocking to the Sundre area, perhaps due to more Albertans planning pandemic staycations. This is sparking concerns about fewer physicians at Sundre hospital. (Contributed photo).

More tourists appear to be flocking to the Sundre area, perhaps due to more Albertans planning pandemic staycations. This is sparking concerns about fewer physicians at Sundre hospital. (Contributed photo).

More tourists, and fewer hospital physicians, are sparking concern in Sundre

Sundre mayor says, AHS has assured him health care will not be impacted

More tourists seem to be flocking to the Sundre area this summer — sparking some concerns about the local hospital losing half of its doctors, says the town’s mayor.

Sundre Mayor Terry Leslie said police in the region have told him the same or greater number of tourists are hiking, fishing and cycling in nearby forests and foothills.

He thinks this makes sense, as most Albertans are sticking close to home during the pandemic.

“I know there are an awful lot of RVs coming through,” added Leslie, who’s aware of inherent risks “whenever people are quading, backpacking, or on motorcycles.”

Eight million vehicles are counted annually travelling on Highway 27, which goes through Sundre.

Leslie said the town’s population is 2,700 and 8,000 people live in Sundre’s service area, so that indicates a huge number of visitors.

“The hospital has to serve a myriad of (patients). They basically have to deal with anything that walks through the door…”

This week, Sundre hospital lost eight physicians after doctors from Sundre’s Moose and Squirrel Medical Clinic followed through on plans to resign their hospital privileges.

They are protesting United Conservative government Health Minister Tyler Shandro wanting to renegotiate the province’s existing contract with Alberta’s doctors.

The health facility that handles everything from obstetrics to broken limbs, will now operate with only half the number of physicians.

Leslie said doctors from Sundre’s other clinic, Greenwood Family Physicians, are still continuing to provide hospital services.

Leslie maintains the contract dispute is at the provincial level, and is outside his control.

Having the dispute arise during the COVID-19 crisis is not ideal, he added, but Alberta Health Services has stated if any issues arise, “they will be dealt with.”

AHS stated on Thursday it “will continue to ensure that Sundre has appropriate AHS programs and services to meet the needs of the community.”

Its coverage plans include calling in locum physicians if needed. (These are doctors living elsewhere who will temporarily step in to fill a service gap.)

Leslie acknowledged there’s “a split in the community, where some people are wondering how is this going to work now. They are waiting and watching.”

“As for my opinion, I’m not concerned… I’m optimistic,” added the mayor, who is satisfied with AHS’s assurances that local health care will not be impacted.

Leslie believes Sundre residents respect the decisions made by doctors of both clinics.

“The doctors are respected for the actions they take. We know there is a certain business model here, and the need to keep afloat.”

The Sundre doctors were among the first to announce their plans to resign from the hospital in early April.

Doctors in Rocky Mountain House, Canmore, Rimbey, Three Hills, Lacombe and Ponoka are among those taking job action.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing shorts uses trekking poles as he walks through the snow at Burnaby Mountain Park in Burnaby, B.C., on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Canadians are “Angry Birds” when it comes to climate action, indicates a survey the United Nations calls the largest ever taken on the issue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
UN survey uses Angry Birds to reveal Canadian, global opinions on climate policies

Canada seventh out of 50 countries when it comes to concern about the environment

James Scott, 19, pauses while picking through the remains of his home, which was destroyed by a tornado, on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Fultondale, Ala. Scott, who survived with his mother and sister, had never lived anywhere else and isn’t sure where he will wind up after the storm. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
Killer winter tornado stuns storm-savvy Alabama town

30 injured, entire families trapped in shattered homes

A photo illustration made December 14, 2012 in Montreal shows a computer in chains. Security experts warn about “ransomware,” where computers or mobile phones are locked down by cyber thieves. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Cyber cops in 9 nations team up to disrupt dangerous malware

Malicious software was delivered in infected email attachments containing Word documents

Vehicles are seen in a parking lot at the General Motors Oshawa Assembly Plant in Oshawa, Ont., on June 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
GM, Navistar team up to build hydrogen powered heavy trucks

GM has been researching hydrogen fuel cells for 50 years

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act

File - In this Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 file photo, survivors of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz arrive for a commemoration ceremony on International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the International Monument to the Victims of Fascism inside Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland. The commemorations for the victims of the Holocaust at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Jan. 27, 1945, will be mostly online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)
Auschwitz survivors mark anniversary online amid pandemic

Memorial site closed to visitors because of the pandemic

FIFA set a new target to finalizing North American host cities for the 2026 World Cup. (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
FIFA sets late-2021 target date to pick 2026 World Cup host cities

23 candidate cities likely need to be cut to 16

Hockey Alberta’s logo. (Photo courtesy Hockey Alberta Facebook)
Hockey Alberta sets deadline on decision for 2020-21 minor hockey season

Sustainability of league play for remainder of season under review

Well-known Rocky Mountain retreat Jasper Park Lodge has been booked out from the end of February until the end of April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lauren Krugel
Famous hotel in Alberta mountains reserved for nine weeks for private booking

Hotel could be a filming site according to online speculation

”Letterkenny” has signed a number of new merchandising deals, including one with collectible figurine creator Funko. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Bell Media, Amanda Matlovich
‘Letterkenny’ inks multiple licensing deals with merchandise companies

Expand on merchandise sold through show’s website

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, left, makes a save on Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mitch Marner scores game winner for Maple Leafs in 4-3 win over Flames

Mitch Marner scores game winner for Maple Leafs in 4-3 win over Flames

FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2007, file photo, Boston Red Sox's Curt Schilling pitches against the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 of the baseball World Series at Fenway Park in Boston. Like many baseball writers, C. Trent Rosecrans viewed the Hall of Fame vote as a labor of love. The results of the 2021 vote will be announced Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, and Rosecrans was not alone in finding the task particularly agonizing this time around. With Schilling's candidacy now front and center — and Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens still on the ballot as well — voters have had to consider how much a player’s off-field behavior should affect his Hall of Fame chances. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
Baseball Hall gets no new members; Schilling 16 votes shy

Baseball Hall gets no new members; Schilling 16 votes shy

Prince Edward Island’s Birt is bubble-bound but first wants provincial title

Prince Edward Island’s Birt is bubble-bound but first wants provincial title

Most Read