Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

The Alberta Health Card

To be seen at our clinic, you must provide the front desk with your Alberta Health Card, or other valid provincial health care card. It is your responsibility to have valid health coverage and to carry proof of this coverage with you; or you will be charged the corresponding Alberta Health Services fee for your visit (generally between $37 and $60 for a basic visit). 

As there is no reciprocal health care arrangement with Quebec, Quebec health care card holders will be charged the scheduled fee and will be issued a receipt.

For more information on how to obtain an Albertal Heath card please visit the Alberta Health website.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

CLINIC OPERATIONAL CHANGES - MAY 2022:

Why is Ridgeview cancelling its evening walk-in clinic services?

We are very fortunate in our community that we have had an abundance of care options for many years.  Ridgeview has, for the most part, been the only Canmore clinic to offer extended hours and a 'walk-in' style clinic for visitors and community members who do not have a family physician, since 2003.  

This service was initiated and provided by the Ridgeview physicians as they wished to provide the best possible access for our community.  Unfortunately, with fewer physicians available (community-wide, not just at Ridgeview), the burden on our physician owned and operated clinic to meet the extraordinary needs of our community is becoming unmanageable.  

Unfortunately, with the loss of two full time physicians in April 2022, our remaining physicians are not able to fully support their family practice patients while continuing to meet the demands of the remainder of our vast community.  Our hope is that this change will be temporary and that with the recruitment of new physicians, we will again be able to offer this extended service to our broader community.

What are the new clinic hours?

Effective May 2, 2022, Ridgeview Medical Centre will be open to our family practice patients Mon-Thurs, 9am – 5pm; and Fri, 9am – 4pm.   We will be open for walk-in clinic only on Saturdays, 10am-4pm.

Will there still be ‘same-day only’ appointments available?

We will set aside a small number of dedicated ‘same-day only’ appointments, which will be available to patients who are already registered to our clinic, including patients who no longer have a family physician at our clinic. 

These appointments will not be available to patients who have not previously attended our clinic.

How will the Saturday walk-in clinic operate moving forward?

We will continue to offer a walk-in clinic on Saturdays from 10am-4pm; however effective May 1, 2022, we will be returning to our traditional policies where patients must physically attend the clinic to register and/or book an appointment.  Saturday appointment bookings will not be available by phone.  

Appointment times will be offered on a first come, first served basis; and there will be a maximum number of appointments available for the day.  The Saturday clinic will be open to new patients, as well as those who have previously registered.

If I can’t get in to see a doctor at Ridgeview, what other services are available locally?

There are several options available:

  • Urgent medical concerns should be directed to the 24hr Emergency Departments at either Canmore General Hospital, or Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.  
  • Non-urgent concerns occurring outside of our Saturday walk-in clinic availability can be addressed by calling 811; by booking an appointment with your family physician during regular clinic hours; or if your situation is worsening and causing concern, can be directed to the Emergency Department.  
  • Alpine Medical Clinic in Banff continues to offer walk-in services; and walk-in clinics and Urgent Care facilities are also available in Cochrane and Calgary.  
  • We encourage patients seeking a family doctor to regularly check the Bow Valley PCN website for updates on physician availability. 
What are the barriers to attracting a family physician to your clinic? 

Ridgeview Medical Centre has had a vacancy that we have been trying to fill since March 2020.  Due to COVID considerations, there were limitations that arose throughout 2020; however our recruitment efforts have been more significantly ramped up with limited success since early 2021.  

Cost of living and available housing continues to be a concern in our community.  Unfortunately additional barriers have arisen since the sudden termination of the contract between the Alberta Government and Alberta physicians. 

Physicians in Alberta are essentially contracted employees of the province; however in community practice, they run their own business and are responsible for all of their own overhead / operational expenses.  

It is a reality we have heard from prospective physicians that the current political climate, lack of support for physicians and healthcare workers, and the increasing costs of running a clinic in Alberta, are all factors in their decision not to settle their practices and families here at this time. 

Who can I contact to discuss the shortage of physicians in the Bow Valley?

Our Bow Valley community has lost approximately 8 family physicians since early 2020.  To our knowledge, there have been no permanent replacements secured for any of these physicians.

As mentioned above, while not the only factor impacting recruitment of physicians to our community, the current political climate is nonetheless having a major impact on our ability to attract physicians to our Province.  I would encourage concerned patients to direct questions to our local MLA, Miranda Rosin; or alternatively, to the NDP Critic for Health.


FORMER PATIENTS OF DR. KIRK & DR. LYDIATE - APRIL 2022:

When Dr. Kirk and Dr. Lydiate leave, are their patients still considered patients of Ridgeview? 

No, unfortunately these patients will no longer have a family physician at Ridgeview Medical Centre.

Who will be the physician of record on the patients who were once in Dr.Kirk’s or Dr. Lydiate’s panels?

There will be no physician of record.  The patient's records will be maintained within our secure Electronic Medical Record.  Once they leave their Ridgeview practices, they will transfer custodianship only of the records to another physician at our clinic.  This does not indicate that the custodian will be the patient's physician; rather it is simply a function where, for example, on receipt of a chart transfer request from the patient’s new family doctor, that physician would approve the release of the chart records.  Further information on the definition of a custodian can be found via the Health Information Act.

Are former patients of Drs’ Kirk or Lydiate able to book in advance to see other physicians at the clinic? 

Unfortunately, no.  As indicated in the letter sent to affected patients, they will no longer have a physician at our clinic once their physician leaves. 

All of our other family physicians have their own large patient populations and are unable to accommodate additional family practice patients at this time.  Unassigned patients will be able to access same-day only appointments, as availability permits.

For those patients with existing health conditions that need regular medications, how will they have the prescriptions refilled?

It is the patient's responsibility to arrange an appointment with their departing physician (or their locum) to request short-term refills of any required medications, prior to their departure. 

Patients who are affected by the departure of Dr’s. Kirk or Lydiate were provided with 3 and 6 months notice, respectively; and it is hoped that they have taken steps to seek alternative care in this time. 

Patients who have not yet found a replacement family physician by May 1, 2022, will be able to access our same-day appointments, pending appointment availability.

Why are you encouraging people to seek care elsewhere, when there are no physicians available locally?

As each family clinic in our community operates as a separate, private business, we do not have control over what the other clinics / physicians are doing; hence, their availability could change at any time.  We would prefer to encourage community members to regularly check in with other clinics, rather than miss out on an opportunity. 

There are also physicians accepting patients in Calgary; and while it may not be ideal for all, it is common practice for people to have to travel to see a family physician if there is not one available in their local area. 

Do you currently have a waitlist that patients can join to obtain a new family doctor? 

At the time of writing these FAQ, we have not started a waitlist.  Once we have secured a new family physician to join our clinic, we will open a waitlist prior to their arrival.

Will there be a triage system to assign patients when spaces open up? Eg. Medical priorities, or former patients?

Further to consultation with the Standards of Practice group at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), we cannot offer a triage system.  We must operate in a fair and unbiased manner.  Once a physician has availability within their practice to take on new patients, we will 'advertise' (eg. on our website, on the BVPCN website)  that we have availability, and will then book patients in for initial appointments on a first-come, first-served basis; as scheduling allows.  Once the physician's practice is no longer able to accommodate additional patients, the practice would then be 'closed' to new patients.

Will patients of Dr. Kirk or Dr. Lydiate be automatically assigned once a new physician is hired? 

We have also consulted with the CPSA regarding this matter and have been advised that no, we cannot hold a waitlist of former patients to assign to a new physician once we are able to recruit.  Had we been able to secure a replacement physician prior to the departure of either Dr. Kirk or Dr. Lydiate, their patients could have been automatically transferred; however once they have left the clinic, it becomes unfair to prioritize one set of unassigned patients over another. 

What other advice can the clinic provide to current patients in this situation?  

To please be patient and to understand that we continue to review and consider all potential options to reduce the impact on our affected clinic patients and our community.   

Physicians in Alberta are private contractors, with the Alberta Government being their 'employer'.  Regardless of how attractive a community or individual clinic may be to a prospective new physician, unfortunately there are other factors that influence a physician's decision on where to settle their practice.  We continue our efforts and sincerely hope to be able to offer some sort of solution, even if temporary, in the near future.


GENERAL QUESTIONS:

What should I bring with me to my doctor’s appointment?

If it is your first visit, you should bring your provincial health care card and photo ID. You should also be able to provide your mailing address, complete with postal code.

Can I become a patient at the clinic?

None of our physicians are currently accepting new patients; however in the event this changes, we do ask that new patients have the intention of becoming regular patients at Ridgeview and permanently reside in an area where they have access to the clinic. If you are only in the area on vacation or temporarily, you should continue to see your usual family physician. For urgent matters, you can visit us during our Saturday walk in hours. Please note physicians are unable to perform complete medical exams or address multiple or complex issues at walk-in clinic.
See our new patients page to check if any physicians are accepting new patients.

What is the difference between an unassigned patient and a walk-in patient?

They are one and the same. Unassigned patients are simply patients who are in our system (usually because they have attended walk-in clinic, or have been seen as a family practice patients at our clinic in the past); but are not currently assigned to a family physician.

Do you accept out of province health care?

We accept all valid provincial health care (card must be presented at the time of booking), with the exception of Quebec. Quebec does not participate in the reciprocal inter-provincial health care agreement. As such, residents of Quebec must pay a base fee at each appointment. A receipt will be issued that can then be submitted to Quebec Health Care for reimbursement.

Do you see out of country patients?

Yes. Out of country patients are seen on a walk-in basis at a base rate of $125.  Complex and/or multiple medical issues may incur additional fees. 

Do you offer phone consults or virtual care?

Yes, we do offer virtual care in the form of phone consults; however there are limitations.  

1) You must be physically in Alberta at the time of your appointment; 

2) Virtual care is not covered by the reciprocal agreement between provinces - a fee will apply at the time of booking if you do not have valid Alberta Health coverage.  

While the options for virtual care were temporarily expanded during the pandemic; information received from both Alberta Health Care and the Canadian Medical Protective Association has confirmed that we are no longer able to offer virtual care to patients who are not physically located in Alberta at the time of their appointment.  This includes clinic patients who may be temporarily out of the country or in another province.

Can I book regular screening appointments, eg. Paps or STI screening during walk-in clinic?

Pending available appointments, our physicians are generally able to perform procedures such as Paps or STI Tests for unassigned patients during same-day or walk-in clinic appointments.  Unfortunately we are not able to provide ‘general health checks’, ‘periodic health exams’, or ‘complete medicals’ for unassigned patients.

To ensure we are able to maintain reasonable wait times, we are only able to assist with individual point-of-care needs, to a maximum of 1-2 concerns per appointment.

Do you offer travel advice?

No. We are unable to provide travel advice. You may wish to speak to your pharmacist or visit the public health website for further information. Please note that travel-related appointments are uninsured services and are not payable by Provincial healthcare.  Fees apply. 

Will you call me regarding laboratory, radiological investigations, or other test results?

As with any appointment, whether with your family doctor or as an unassigned patient; should there be a need, the physician who orders the investigations (or the locum covering for them, should one be in place at the time) will communicate with the patient regarding any necessary results follow up.

If you are waiting to be contacted and continue to experience symptoms or your condition worsens, please return to the clinic and book a follow up appointment.

If an unassigned patient needs a follow up appointment for further care, how can they book that appointment?

The patient is able to call or attend the clinic in-person to enquire about a same-day appointment. There is limited availability each day, so appointments book up quite quickly. If follow-up of a specific issue is required, the method of follow-up will be determined between the doctor and the patient at the time of the appointment.

Do you attend to work related injuries?

Yes. Please inform the front desk staff that the injury is work related BEFORE you see the doctor. You must provide the workplace address, phone number, and basic information relating to the injury.

Is Ridgeview Medical Centre a part of the Primary Care Network? 

Our clinic, as with all clinics in the Bow Valley, is a private organization, owned and operated by a group of family physicians.  Our affiliation with the Primary Care Network (PCN) is that our physicians elect to be members of the Bow Valley PCN, providing collaboration and coordination of Primary Health initiatives and resources within our communities.  This is different to the 'PCN Clinic' model that some may be familiar with in larger communities.

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