A shortage of medical patients is certainly not an issue in Bragg Creek.
Celebrating their 1,000th registered patient on Nov. 27, Care in the Creek Medical Centre is poised to reach what resident doctor Leslie Cunning called their ‘soft cap’ of 1,500 patients in the not-so-distant future.
The clinic, which currently limits its regular hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is taking on new clients like wildfire, registering at times upwards of 25 in one day.
“We’ve always known the care delivery model has been problematic in Bragg Creek,” said Cunning, of the demand he has seen from both Bragg Creek area residents and those from surrounding municipalities like Cochrane and Calgary.
Cunning pointed out that while the clinic is eyeing a 1,500 patient ceiling at the moment, that number is for registered patients, not those seeking one-time medical assistance.
“We’re talking about continuous care,” explained Cunning, saying there are a marked group of 1,027 elderly residents in the Bragg Creek area who could take some time to register with the clinic, many of whom suffer with a chronic disease.
One of the hurdles Cunning sees Care in the Creek having to face if they do take on patients from a larger catchment area is being able to staff the clinic to accommodate the number of clients. Cunning said that it is becoming very difficult to get people to work evening and weekend shifts, and that the hours one doctor used to cover years prior would now take three.
“Young people simply won’t do it,” said Cunning, adding that the present-day doctor works anywhere from 40-42 weeks each year, while they used to put in 48-50.
Somewhat of a Catch 22 is that for the clinic to entice new physicians to join their team, they would need to increase their patient count so that doctors are kept busy.
Cunning said the clinic will welcome trainee medical staff this coming summer, something he is looking forward to.
Another challenge to a high clientele is having proper infrastructure, technology and resources in place, something Cunning said would be a project that could span six months to a year before complete.
Care in the Creek is urging those in the Bragg Creek area who want to register as a patient with the clinic to do so as soon as possible, as for the time being, they have priority. The clinic can be reached at 403-949-2457.