Once reaching the difficult decision of closing the Cochrane Primary Care Centre, the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network (PCN) wanted to provide as much advance notice as possible.

A few hours ago, they announced their decision to close the care centre no later than January 2022.

"We will be closed for sure by January 2022," says Dr. Janet Reynolds, a family physician and medical director of the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network. "We chose to make the announcement now so the physicians that are remaining and the rest of the staff have opportunities to find their transition path, and the Primary Care Network will continue to provide support wherever we can for those transitions."

She says despite the closure, Cochrane remains important to PCN.

"It was a really difficult decision for the Primary Care Network, I don't think I can emphasize that enough. Really, I think it was a combination of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as about 50 per cent of our doctors leaving the clinic here in the last month and a half, and that lead to the business model being unsustainable for us."

She says there is no one particular reason why the physicians have left.

"I think they are leaving for a variety of reasons, anywhere from personal and family reasons to changing the focus of their practice to retirement."

Before that, she says they normally had about nine or 10 physicians at the care centre, although most of them didn't work there full-time.

Having been the director for only the last 1 1/2 years, she's unsure if keeping physicians has been a problem in the past. 

"I understand it has been hard to recruit physicians in Cochrane over the last little while, particularly right now in a pandemic when I don't think people feel very mobile."

Even with the closure of the care centre, PCN will continue to have a presence here.

"The Primary Care Network will continue to have the presence of multidisciplinary team staff from our network providing services to patients there, like the community pharmacists and health management nurses and the behavioral health consultant, so that will continue to exist in Cochrane."

For those now needing to secure a new family doctor, she says they are aware of one physician accepting new patients in Cochrane, and about 40 in Northwest Calgary.

Mayor Jeff Genung was surprised by the closure and called it a valued community resource.

"We'll do some digging here and find out exactly what that means to Cochrane and what it is that we can do to ensure there's no interruption in health care for our Cochrane residents."

Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network is a group of more than 500 family doctors who serve almost 400,000 patients.

Cochrane Primary Care Centre is located at #103, 100 Grande Blvd. and opened in 2011