The City of Cold Lake was selected as the Award’s inaugural recipient for best exemplifying the overall attributes of successful community involvement and partnership.
Prior to 2006, Cold Lake had faced great challenges in recruiting and retaining physicians: The city faced the potential loss of Obstetrics and Gynecology services, and was severely short of General Practitioners. As a result, much of the community did not have a family doctor, resulting in emergency room waits of several hours while physicians laboured under enormous patient workload.
A community meeting spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce led to the formation of the Communities Leading Regional Recruitment & Retention (CLR3) coalition. The primary goal of this volunteer group was to complete specific tasks to enhance recruitment and retention efforts.
The Chamber of Commerce designated a staff person to be a Coordinator to assist prospective physicians and their family members with their needs. Local organizations and community members provided new arrivals with access to vehicles, housing, child care and spousal employment. Financial assistance and help with moving were also provided when required.
The City of Cold Lake also played a major role in the Coalition, providing representation to the steering committee, and financial assistance for its operations. Practicing physicians were included in community events and recognition of their work and contribution has been ongoing.
Following its inception, the Coalition was involved in several successful recruitment initiatives for health care professionals in Cold Lake including: three General Practitioners/ Anesthetists, an Obstetrician/Gynecologist, a Diagnostic Imaging (DI) Supervisor, an X-ray technician, and several nurses.
“I believe the Coalition, has been the greatest determinant of success in physician recruitment in Cold Lake,” said Katherine Chubbs, of the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre in 2008. “Members of the Coalition have opened their hearts and homes to these people to make our community stronger.”
The Alberta Rural Community Physician Attraction and Retention Award was presented to representatives from Cold Lake at the Alberta Chambers of Commerce Annual General Meeting in Peace River.