Rimbey residents who have been without a family doctor are breathing a sigh of relief – a new doctor is set to start at the Rimbey Medical Clinic in late September.
Dr. Wedad Saqar is a new doctor in Canada, coming from Libya. Shirley Knauft, clinic manager at the Rimbey Medical Clinic, explained that Dr. Saqar did a three-month supervised practice in Drumheller and she’s done another three-month supervised practice at her new home clinic as well.
Dr. Saqar will be Rimbey’s sixth doctor and she is taking new patients. The town had a doctor move on to another community in December 2021, so those patients and anyone else looking for a doctor can be moved onto Dr. Saqar’s waiting list.
“It’s awesome,” Knauft said of a new doctor starting. “It’s been really hard on our doctors for the last nine months, trying to cover emerg, patients, long-term care. This is one step in the right direction.”
Knauft said ideally Rimbey would have eight doctors available.
In January, the Alberta government announced a rural doctor attraction and retention plan, which would see $6 million over three years going towards bringing doctors to 15 rural communities in need. Rimbey was listed as one of the communities in need.
“The program will provide financial benefits to new family physicians who practice in rural Alberta,” Health Minister Jason Copping said in a press conference. “In exchange, these new family physicians will provide three years of service in a designated rural area.”
Applications for the program were accepted until March and family physicians would begin working in their communities in the fall.
Copping and Dr. Gavin Parker, chair of the Rural Health Professions Action Plan, said there is evidence that shows once a doctor lives in a community, they’re more likely to stay.
Saqar comes to Rimbey with her spouse and four children.