Ponoka physician leaving due to provincial cuts

Dr. Paras Satija will be closing his practice at the end of August, plans to leave Alberta

The Battle River Medical Clinic announced in a press release May 17 that it is losing one of its newest physicians, due to ongoing tensions with the province regarding funding and the terminated master agreement.

Dr. Paras Satija will be closing his practice at the end of August. He will be ‘locuming’ (filling in) at the Ponoka hospital this fall until he finds a community in another province to move to.

“This decision was not easy and, unfortunately, many of the government’s cuts and behaviours towards physicians in Alberta influenced that decision,” said Satija in the release.

“I am a rural family physician because I strongly believe in the importance of community, building relationships, and taking care of each other. The provincial government’s attack on health care and its leadership — through both actions and ideology — has made it untenable for me to continue to live and work in Alberta.”

The provincial government announced on March 17 that it is cancelling the changes planned for physicians’ payments for complex modifiers that were to take effect on March 31.

At the time, Dr. Christine Molnar, president of the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), stated the AMA appreciated the government’s concession but there was still more work to be done.

READ MORE: UCP government cancels changes to complex modifiers

Alberta physicians remained concerned, issuing an open letter to Minister of Health Tyler Shandro and Premier Jason Kenney, stating: “The proposed changes that will be initiated April 1, 2020 are detrimental to our patients and the health care system.

“Now is not the time to restructure the system that we understand and intrinsically know how to operate.”

“Dr. Satija decided that the cuts to rural health care along with the lack of respect the provincial government showed in pushing through these cuts were not conducive towards his practice of medicine,” said Dr. Gregory Sawisky, a physician with the clinic.

“We fully support Dr. Satija’s decision to do what he feels is the right choice for him and his practice of medicine.”

Other communities that are losing physicians include Rimbey, Canmore and Ft. McMurray, according to Sawisky.

READ MORE: Rimbey clinic potentially losing two doctors after COVID-19 pandemic

While there are no physicians accepting new patients at this time, patients of Dr. Satija will be able to continue their care with the Battle River Medical Clinic through the Daily Access Clinic.

READ MORE: MLA COLUMN : Stable funding for healthcare

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