Restore primary care to necessary levels

Letters to the Editor, Edmonton Journal

Published December 31, 2022 

We understand that the ongoing shortage of family physicians causes patients to consider other providers to assist with their primary care needs. We are working with government, under our agreement in the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) initiative, to seek short- and long-term solutions to support patients.

Nothing can replace the comprehensive, high-value care provided by family medicine specialists who have years of training in understanding the needs of patients through the whole life journey. Family medicine is “a precise discipline, integrating a unique blend of biomedical, behavioural and social sciences, while employing a diverse range of cognitive and procedural skills.” (Source: Canadian Medical Association, updated August 2018)

Access to pharmacy clinics as a stop-gap during a shortage of family physicians does not change the fact that every Albertan should have a family physician to call their own. We will work with government toward that end.

Pharmacist clinics popping up are disconnected from the patient’s other touchpoints in the system. We already have insufficient information sharing and burden the patient too much to keep track of decisions, diagnoses and data. Let’s not make this worse.

Primary care in separate streams that never intersect is not good patient care. We need continuity for patients and across providers to ensure information sharing and effective working relationships. The best possible approach is an integrated team to address all a patient’s medical concerns throughout their lives in a medical home in which allied health professions work with the physician. Our efforts must be aligned with MAPS and other collaborative efforts. We must support our family physicians and the patients of Alberta.

This is not only an Alberta issue. We call on the federal government to work with the Canadian Medical Association to support the provinces and restore primary care to levels that Canadians require.

Dr. Fredrykka Rinaldi
President, Alberta Medical Association

Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.