Area physicians meet with medical association president

Local doctors with the Sun Country Regional Medical Association were given the opportunity to bring up any issues they have, including about the new Saskatchewan Health Authority, as they met with the president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, Dr. Siva Karunakaran on Wednesday at the Weyburn Travelodge.

This was part of a 12-stop tour by Dr. Karunakaran and Dr. Allan Woo for the SMA president and vice-president’s tour around the province.

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The annual tour is used to stay in touch with the association members, and is an opportunity for physicians to raise any relevant issues, such as how things have been working since the amalgamation of the health regions with the single Saskatchewan Health Authority last year on Dec. 4.

“There were a lot of discussions last year, and a lot of anxiety over how it was going to work, particularly in rural areas,” said Dr. Karunakaran in an interview. “What we are pleased with in the new health authority is that physicians are involved at the highest levels of the executive, which is a positive. We advocated for it when they were looking to review how merge all of the health regions into one.”

Some of the administrative positions with the SHA and at the regional levels are supposed to be filled by physicians, but they are not all filled yet. Dr. Karunakaran noted that his Alberta counterparts said it would take time for everything to be put in place.

One of the issues he talked to the local doctors about is the Sask. Health Authority has been working on their bylaws collaboratively with the Sask. Medical Association.

“The bylaws articulate the relationship between practitioners and the SHA. They are quite detailed and it will take time to finalize them. The bylaws are extremely important to the province’s physicians and I am keen to hear what SMA members think of the progress so far,” said Dr. Karunakaran, adding the medical association has a team of four members who are working on the bylaws.

The medical association’s strategic plan was also raised, and a focus point will be addressing the issue of physician burnout, said the president.

“Physician wellness has also been identified as a national priority by the Canadian Medical Association, and is of critical importance to the profession today,” he said.

Another issue is the pending legalization of marijuana, due to take effect across Canada on Oct. 17, as many doctors are concerned about the effects that marijuana will have on people’s health.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association is a voluntary, member-based professional association for the province’s 2,400 practising physicians, medical students and residents in the province, and is the provincial chapter of the Canadian Medical Association.