Those needing a family doctor have a much better chance of securing one than in recent years.

Cochrane began to suffer an acute shortage of doctors in 2021, due to a combination of departures, retirements, and a shortage of doctors across the nation. There was an outcry after hundreds of families in Cochrane were left on waiting lists.

It became particularly noticeable when the Cochrane Primary Care Centre announced its closure in April 2021.

Flipping forward to now, several new clinics have opened and more doctors have arrived due to a combined effort of AHS, government officials, and the clinics themselves. There are still people and families in search of a family doctor, but the list is getting shorter.

Fireside Family Health is among those who stepped up their marketing and recruitment efforts, and it has paid off for Cochrane. They now have seven physicians, including an obstetrician.

"We've been doing quite a bit of recruiting and we've been very fortunate in gaining some sponsorships through AHS and CPSA and they've lowered some barriers to allow us to recruit Dr. Aiman Waqar as well as Dr. Arsalan Ali, the two newest additions to our team," says Dr. Brendan Flowers of Fireside Family Health.

Dr. Ali is currently accepting new patients.

"He has been working in Ontario for a few years, and then he and his family have, fortunately, moved and are very excited to be living in Cochrane," says Dr. Flowers.

They recruited two other doctors earlier this year. 

"It's a wonderful community to be a part of, and that's what makes it really easy to market it to potential physicians because it is a growing community, it's a thriving community and it has a wonderful sense of that small town quality that so many people are looking for."

He says Cochrane's proximity to the mountains and the Calgary International Airport is also attractive.

Dr. Flowers says they continue to be on the outlook for more physicians.

"As long as there are unattached patients, we'll continue to do our best to try to serve them creatively. We're very dedicated and focused on trying to serve the Cochrane community, and so we will continue to recruit as best we can."

Fireside has opened a women's health pelvic floor clinic that's being led full-time by Dr. Tina Nicholson and is being assisted part-time by Dr. Melissa Mirosh.

"We've been very fortunate to partner with a registered nurse, who is also helping out with the clinic, so it allows for women's health and pessary fittings particularly."

He says referrals to their pelvic floor can be made through general practitioners.

More staff means the health centre has been able to extend its hours to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Tuesday to Thursday and continue to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays.

"This is just yet another way that we're trying to serve our community. We recognize that it's difficult for some people to get in for that 9 to 5 window. This will allow us to serve our patients and families better."

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