On 30 March 2017, in a meeting two years in the making, RPAP consultants met with Fort McMurray residents who are concerned about local healthcare, including a multi-stakeholder group interested in starting a healthcare professionals attraction and retention committee.
“Finding healthcare resources … is a challenge for a community like ours,” says meeting participants Lori Apostal who is also the Executive Director of the Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network. “Even though we’re not a small town, we are very remote.”
For those at the meeting, it was a good opportunity to talk about concerns and ideas on how to attract and retain healthcare professionals to the northern community.
“How do we make sure that people really benefit from everything we have to offer in our community?” asks Apostal. “We want to make sure that families see the value of our community, see what we have to offer and to make sure that they feel welcome and we help them to integrate into the community.”
A native of Fort McMurray, Apostal had built a career working in health care outside of the Wood Buffalo region. But when the opportunity to lead the PCN became available, it was time to return home.
“We’ve had a very strong community here for decades,” she says. “If you can integrate into our community, it’s a really great place to live.”
Lori Apostal is not alone in her love of Fort McMurray. Later that day, just down the hall from where the group met, a wide range of local healthcare professionals took part in the Fort McMurray Health Career Expo, a hands-on career exploration event for high school students in grades 10 to 12.
One such participant who well knows what Fort McMurray has to offer is Randy Sloan, a pharmacist at the Wood Buffalo Primary Care Network. Sloan has spent most of his life in the Wood Buffalo region, working and raising his family in the community.
“[Fort McMurray is] like Goldilocks — it’s not too small and not too big,” says Sloan. “It’s big enough to have services that smaller centres don’t have, but it’s not so big that it’s anonymous. You know the physicians, you know each other, you know pharmacists in the city [and] it fosters that team feeling where everybody knows each other. I love it here.”
Find out more