Physician committee wants furniture removed from house
for South Peace News
A public delegation comprised of Ken Matthews, representing the Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee, and Nona Elliott, representing the High Prairie Community Health Foundation, appeared in front of High Prairie town council on July 25 asking for the furniture currently in the physician’s house.
Mathews first updated council by saying the committee had “been successful in recruiting at least six doctors.” He added the committee had also managed to recruit a surgeon, who was married to an anaesthesiologist, but Alberta Health Services felt there was no need for High Prairie to have a surgeon, especially since he would not have access to an anaesthesiologist.
He then went on to explain the four key factors that are important in recruiting doctors to the town: the first was good schools; second, recreation facilities; third, hospitals and health facilities; and fourth, housing.
“Many of our doctors are not from Canada,” said Matthews. “They typically come to High Prairie and tour the area for two days. They always speak to realtors about housing. It’s critical to have a place for these doctors to stay until they can earn enough money to buy a house.
“Currently we have recruited two doctors for the town,” continued Matthews. “One will be arriving mid-August. Fortunately we have secured housing out of town. Right now, we need to know what sort of commitment the town is willing to give us. We need your support. It’s very important to the community and the area. We need some sort of direction regarding the type of commitment the town is willing to give us.”
Council was unable to provide an answer to Matthews’ questions, so he then asked when the retention committee could be expected to have the furniture in the town’s physician’s house returned.
“The furniture was bought by the Physician Retention Committee – not the M.D.,” he said. “It was bought from a grant specifically for furniture and if it is not used for doctors that could possibly impact further grants.
“We want the furniture moved as soon as possible and we don’t have the capability to do that,” said Matthews. “We would like the town to move it for us.”
Matthews added if they could not recover the furniture from the town, they would need a certain amount of money to replace the furniture as well as everything else that was purchased for the house.
Next, Elliott addressed council saying, “This house was a wonderful recruiting tool for doctors. It was used. Our foundation and the committee are partners with the town. When the house was occupied, we never even found out until we saw it in the paper or heard it through gossip.
“We were very hurt by this,” she said.
Mayor Rick Dumont said they would get the furniture out as soon as possible, adding he was disappointed because the committee never let the town know about any of their meetings.
“Crystal [Sekulich] is on the committee and she hasn’t been notified of one meeting,” he said.
“We didn’t even know Crystal was on the committee,” replied Elliott. “As far as we knew, Wilf [Willier] was the town’s representative.”
When Dumont asked her the last time the committee met, Elliott said the foundation and the committee had met in June and Willier had attended the meeting.
“Well it would be nice to hear from you once in a while,” said Dumont.
Meanwhile, Elliott got back to the issue at hand: the furniture.
“When can we have it back?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” said Dumont, adding the town would have to look into the Landlord/Tenant Act and see what the legal obligations were regarding removing the furniture.
“Will you let us know when you’re going to load it up so that we can be there and take inventory?” asked Matthews.
Dumont agreed and a motion was passed to direct administration to find out how the Landlord/Tenant Act reads in regards to removing furniture that belongs neither to the town nor the tenant.