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Local woman searching for family physician after being dumped by 'lottery system'


An Edmonton woman says she no longer has a family doctor after a clinic restructuring forced physicians to use a "lottery system" to determine who would stay in their care.

At a Monday press conference hosted by the Official Opposition, Mona Koch shared that she had a "fantastic family doctor" for eight years at the Callingwood Crossing Medical Clinic.

Last November, Koch says she received an email from the clinic indicating that since doctors were leaving the clinic, they could only keep some patients in their care.

"I can't really describe what I felt when I read that," Koch told reporters. "Shock and disbelief are probably the main emotions that hit me. I just didn't understand what was happening."

"I had absolutely no idea that this could happen."

According to her, the medicentre had between 10 to 12 physicians but decreased to just four. Koch says the clinic informed her she would remain in their care for 90 days as she transitioned to a new family doctor.

She quickly booked a physical and, while there, asked for more details about the loss of care she would experience.

"[My doctor] said because other doctors left the clinic, she would be taking on some of the patients from those doctors," Koch explained. "So she had to drop some patients.

"Through a lottery system, my name came up, and I was no longer going to be her patient. She said it would be the fairest way to do it.

"They basically put my name in a hat, and if your name was drawn, it was sorry, you are SOL and have no family doctor. Well, that's no lottery I wanted to win," Koch said, adding she does not know how many other patients were affected.

She also clarified that no specific reasons were given by the doctors on why they were leaving or if they were moving out of the province. Koch said a few doctors said they left the clinic over concerns about how it was being run.

Koch's physician directed her to use the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) online doctor search to help locate a new one.

She called several doctors who indicated online on the CPSA tool they were accepting new patients, only to find that information was inaccurate.

"I called the college," Koch said, "and was told they aren't getting updates from the doctors, so the system is out of date.

"The health-care system in Alberta is a mess. How long can this go on?"


David Shepherd, the NDP health critic, said that both Albertans and health-care workers "deserve better" than what happened to Koch.

"It's difficult to imagine how it came to this," he added. "A lottery to decide who would lose the care of their family doctor."

Upon taking the helm as premier, Shepherd said Danielle Smith had a 90-day plan to fix the province's health-care system.

"Well, that was 113 days ago," Shepherd said. "And not only is there no end in sight to the chaos in healthcare, [but] her plan has been an utter disaster."

Scott Johnston, Health Minister Jason Copping's press secretary, told CTV News Edmonton that the province has "numerous initiatives" to attract and retain physicians, namely the new agreement with the Alberta Medical Association and the reinstatement of operating supports for family physicians.

"Alberta Health does not interfere with the business practices set by independent practitioners," Johnston added.

"There are a couple of online tools to help find a family doctor," he said. "The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta runs one, while the Primary Care Network offers a search engine based on your postal code, that lists which doctors are taking patients in the area.

"Word of mouth through family and friends, and Health Link at 811 also offers referrals."

The Opposition says it will unveil a comprehensive plan on how it would improve the health-care system in the coming week. Shepherd says a part of it will include amending some funding, which he believes is too focused on acute and critical care at the expense of primary care.

"We have to ensure that care is available in the community because that takes the pressure off of our ERs, off of our hospitals, helps manage chronic conditions, so they don't get as severe," Shepherd said.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Lampa Top Stories

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