By Kevin J. Sabo
For the Ponoka News
After a rough couple of years, the staff at the Battle River Medical Clinic in Ponoka have some reason to be optimistic.
The optimism stems from the signing of two new physicians and a nurse practitioner for the clinic.
“The Battle River Clinic is very excited that we have been able to find two new physicians to join our practice,” said Dr. Greg Sawisky, another of the clinic’s physicians.
“We are very excited, after we lost five physicians in under two years, to have some new physicians in town.”
The first new physician to join the practice is Dr. Bisma Zulfiqar, an American-trained Canadian physician who returned to the area to be closer to family.
Dr. CJ Rogers is the second new physician, who has joined the medical practice as a sessional physician.
Per Dr. Sawisky, a physician is considered sessional when a contract is signed for a period, “without permanently joining the practice.”
In Dr. Rogers’ case, the contract she signed with the clinic will be for one year, as her partner finishes his physician training as well.
“While her husband finishes his training, she will be with us,” said Sawisky.
“Then they will determine where their future lies. We are very excited and grateful to have her support in Ponoka during this time.”
The third new staff member added to the clinic is Nurse Practitioner Tammy Campbell, who is joining the clinic via the Wolf Creek Primary Care Network.
A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has gone back to school to complete a masters program.
According to Sawisky, the nurse practitioner can see patients independently of a physician, as well as provide prescriptions and help come up with treatment plans.
“We are very excited, with the assistance of the Wolf Creek Primary Care Network, to have a nurse practitioner as part of our staff,” said Sawisky.
“She will have her own patients, as well as take patients during the daily access clinic.”
In addition to duties in the clinic, the physicians will also be working in the hospital.
Fortunately, according to a representative from Alberta Health Services, even with the physicians having left, the Ponoka Hospital has been able to maintain staffing and has not faced bed closures such has been seen elsewhere in the province.