Ponoka doctor leaving due to long hours

Dr. Gage Seavilleklein wants more time with family after deaths of colleagues

Several Ponoka physicians have left the community in the past year for various reasons, and now another doctor is going, citing the need for a better work-life balance.

Dr. Gage Seavilleklein sent a letter to patients Aug. 31 informing them he is closing his practice Dec. 23.

“This is a decision that I did not come to lightly and was perhaps the most deliberated decision of my life,” said Seavilleklein in the letter that was posted on Battle River Medical Clinic’s Facebook page.

The clinic was already short-staffed after Dr. Emma Curran announced in April that she would be leaving her practice at the end of June to pursue specialty training, and Dr. Paras Satija closed his practice at the end of August, pointing to provincial cuts as the reason.

Dr. Brendan Bunting retired in December 2019.

“The importance of this decision was driven home by the recent deaths of my colleagues, Drs. Myburgh and Reynolds,” said Seavilleklein in the letter.

Dr. Walter Reynolds was killed on Aug. 10 at Red Deer’s Village Mall Walk-in Clinic, where he worked.

READ MORE: Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Seavilleklein said the main factor in his decision is that the time commitments in Ponoka are “too great, and are impacting my ability to be the father and husband I want to be.”

He says that in his first five years in Ponoka, he alternated between 70- and 90-hour work weeks, and that in the past three years, since his daughter was born, he’s only been able to scale that down to about 60 hours a week.

“This has not provided me with the work-life balance I feel I need to ensure I don’t continue to miss important moments and memories in my family’s life … I am forced to change where and how I practice.”

Seavilleklein says he has “deeply enjoyed” his time in Ponoka, serving the community as part of a team of health-care professionals.

“I believe that collectively, we deliver top-notch quality of care, give the resources we have access to.”

That hardest part of leaving is no longer serving the patients he’s come to know, said Seavilleklein.

“Most of all, I will miss seeing you, my patients,” he said.

“I will forever cherish the laughs and tears we have shared as we tackled your health-related issues.”

This article was updated at 4:47 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. to make a correction.

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