Moosomin council meets with health minister

February 12, 2013 2:18 pm
Kevin Weedmark

Moosomin town council met with the two people responsible for heath care in Saskatchewan last week to press for funding changes to help ensure Moosomin can retain its group of doctors.

Mayor Larry Tomlinson, town administrator Paul Listrom, and all six councillors met with Saskatchewan Health Minister Dustin Duncan and Minister of Rural and Remote Health Randy Weekes Tuesday.

The hour-long meeting took place during the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association meeting in Saskatoon.

The meeting touched on three issues-diverting funding from the Sun Country Health Region to Moosomin, where many Sun Country patients are now being served, a boundary change that would bring the northern region of Sun Country into the Regina Qu'Appelle region, and upgrading the status of the Southeast Integrated Care Centre in Moosomin to a Regional Hospital.

Initially the meeting was just to be with Weekes, the minister of rural and remote health, but the town requested that health minister Duncan be there.

"We said we wanted to meet with the health minister as well, and he was there when we went into the meeting," Tomlinson said.

He said the town council got a good hearing from the health minister and Weekes.

"They listened, as far as I could tell," Tomlinson said.

"Paul and I followed the agenda fairly closely and I think the meeting went well. Our main point to them is our doctors are burned out, and making it a regional hospital will help.

"The problem right now is, it's acting as a regional hospital, but it isn't being funded like one."
In a regional hospital, the government pays for 24-hour physician coverage, while in a community hospital like Moosomin, physicans are on call but are only paid for specific duties they perform if they are called in to the hospital to see a patient while on call.

A secondary issue is that the Moosomin facility is seeing a lot of patients from the Sun Country Health Region, but funding dollars aren't following those patients to Moosomin.

Because they are residents of Sun Country, the funds intended to cover the care of those patients is going to Sun Country, which has limited services in its northern region.

"We pointed out that, with Sun Country people coming in the money doesn't follow the patients, unlike Manitoba," Tomlinson said.

"The doctors tell us they now have patients coming as far as Estevan, Bienfait, and Oxbow-it's crazy."
Under an interprovincial agreement, Saskatchewan receives funding from Manitoba for patients treated at SEICC or other facilities.

Tomlinson said the town delegation pressed the point as well as they could.

"We tried to do what we could," he said. "They said it would take a little bit of time, but I told them I want an answer back as soon as possible."

Council had looked for input from the local physicians before the meeting.

Tomlinson said he is hoping for a positive answer from the health minister on the issue of regional hospital status, and will not let the issue slide if the town doesn't get the answer it's looking for.

"We'll be persistent," he said.