FAQ 1: How will this policy be applied to sole practitioners in small towns who cannot find any coverage?
Answer: The College does not expect coverage provision that is not sustainable. The policy will be applied reasonably, and cases will be assessed in the context of what is available. In some of these cases, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) may be able to assist. Rural and remote physicians can also consider whether they might be eligible for the SMA Rural Relief Program during planned absences.
Many small-town physicians have a telephone message for patients to call the ER after-hours, where the physician(s) themselves provide services. The Nursing staff work collaboratively with the physicians to assess and triage complaints, to reduce the burden of callouts.
On occasion, some small centres will be unable to provide coverage for short periods of time, despite efforts by the physician, SHA and SMA. When this happens, patients are directed to visit nearby towns where ER services are available. Such absences must be clearly communicated to the population served by the ER – in social media, newspapers, on answering machines, etc., and coordinated with EMS services