Southern Alberta town loses one of only two health clinics

Residents of a southern Alberta community say they are concerned over the unexpected closure of one of two health clinics. The Fort Macleod Family Medical Clinic shut down Friday and employees say it will remain so indefinitely.

FORT MACLEOD — Residents of a southern Alberta community say they are concerned over the unexpected closure of one of two health clinics.

The Fort Macleod Family Medical Clinic shut down Friday and employees say it will remain so indefinitely.

The circumstances surrounding the closure are unclear, but Dr. Steven Beekman says there aren’t enough doctors in town.

Beekman is now one of only two physicians practising in Fort Macleod.

He expects to see an increase of people in the hospital’s emergency department as a result of the clinic closing.

Alberta Health Services says it is working to recruit more doctors, but for now the community will need to rely on outside help.

“Currently there are not adequate numbers of family physicians for us to recruit, so we are actively recruiting a few from small rural communities as well as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat,” said AHS spokesman Vanessa Maclean.

“It was not of the desire of the physicians that worked there to close (the clinic),” Beekman said. “They were forced to do so by events that were beyond their control.”

Consequences will be many, he suggested.

“A lot of people have needs that can only be met by a doctor that … sees them on a regular basis. Many have chronic illnesses. Many have prescriptions that need regular refilling, so that is going to increase our workload significantly if we can’t find doctors.”

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