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17 new doctors coming to Lethbridge, some before winter: AHS

Click to play video: 'Preparing for flu season in southern Alberta'
Preparing for flu season in southern Alberta
WATCH ABOVE: As the province warns of an increase in respiratory viruses in the fall and winter, pharmacists are looking ahead to the availability of the flu shot. Eloise Therien has more on what health advice is being given and an update into doctor recruitment in the community – Sep 14, 2022

A lack of family physicians in Lethbridge and other parts of southern Alberta has been an ongoing topic of discussion for quite some time. It’s an issue that might be on the minds of residents as the cold and flu season approaches.

The City of Lethbridge, health organizations and other stakeholders have developed a marketing strategy to attract more physicians to the area, and Alberta Health Services says there has been interest.

“Seventeen family medicine physicians have committed to the community of Lethbridge and are awaiting their College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) practice readiness assessments,” AHS said in an update to Global News on Wednesday.

“Four of the 17 have commenced the first portion of their assessment, which will target their practice start in Lethbridge in the fall,” the statement reads, adding the remainder are expected to begin practising between the months of December and March of 2023.

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Read more: AHS expecting 11 new doctors in Lethbridge before 2023

“Additional recruitment of licensed physicians is expected as a result of the marketing strategy that has been developed by AHS, Chinook Primary Care Network and community stakeholders.”

Becky Anderson, the pharmacy manager at Draffin’s Pharmasave in Lethbridge, said pharmacists are a good resource if anyone has questions about their symptoms, whether they lack access to a doctor or not.

The Alberta government is cautioning of a potential rise in respiratory illnesses this fall and winter, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as well as COVID-19.

Read more: A first for Alberta: Superstore opens pharmacist-led health clinic in Lethbridge

“Pharmacists are very accessible to be able to talk to about things like that,” Anderson said.

“There is always something available and pharmacists are really, for the over-the-counter stuff, the best accessible health-care professionals.”

Anderson said the flu vaccine will be available starting on Oct. 17.

“Just remember that you can get your COVID vaccine or your COVID booster at the same time as the flu shot, which is (nice) that we can do them at the same time,” the pharmacist said.

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Click to play video: 'Health Matters: Bracing for a bad flu season, and yet another study showing the sour side of artificial sweeteners'
Health Matters: Bracing for a bad flu season, and yet another study showing the sour side of artificial sweeteners

The province has also stressed the importance of continuing with healthy habits heading into the next few months, when more people will be heading indoors.

“The more Albertans who continue with habits from the past few years such as staying home when sick, washing hands regularly, accessing the protection of vaccines at recommended intervals, and considering mask use in indoor public places when transmission is high, the more the combined impact of all these respiratory viruses can be reduced,” wrote Charity Wallace, the assistant director of communications with Alberta Health.

“Remembering that our actions impact our families and communities as well as ourselves remains important.”

More information on influenza can be found on the government of Alberta’s website.

–With files from Erik Bay, Global News

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