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New doctor coming at end of July

A new family doctor is moving to Cranbrook at the end of the month.

Dr. Karen Fordham is relocating from Moncton, New Brunswick to open a practice in Cranbrook, filling one of at least five vacant GP positions in the community.

The East Kootenay Division of Family Practice announced the recruitment on Wednesday, July 9.

Dr. Fordham will be joining the F.W. Green Clinic, but it is yet to be determined when and if she will be accepting new patients, according to the Division.

There are nearly 4,000 people in Cranbrook who don't have a family doctor, which is roughly 20 per cent of Cranbrook residents.

Five family doctors have closed down their Cranbrook practice this year: three at the F.W. Green Clinic, and two at the Associate Clinic.

Meanwhile, doctors in the hospital emergency department have expressed their concerns about orphaned patients who are forced into the hospital for care, which is not ideal for the patient and overtaxes medical staff.

Dr. Fordham was recruited to join Cranbrook’s medical community through a new collaboration between family doctors, the Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce, the City of Cranbrook, the Regional District of East Kootenay, Interior Health and the College of the Rockies.

It is connected to the province’s A GP For Me program, a joint initiative of the doctors of B.C. and the provincial government.

Dr. Fordham, who has just completed her residency in New Brunswick, toured Cranbrook in May and was the first physician to be part of Cranbrook’s Red Carpet Welcome program.

The program gives family doctors considering practicing in Cranbrook detailed information about the community and coordinates an initial familiarization visit based on the visiting doctors’ professional and personal needs.

“Our Red Carpet Welcome program is off to a great start,” said Dr. Greg Andreas, physician lead for the EK Division. “This first recruitment shows the benefit of taking a collaborative approach to managing Cranbrook’s doctor shortage.”

During the visit, Dr. Fordham toured local clinics and regional recreation amenities and meet with representatives from schools and other organizations relevant to her and her family.

The task force also hosted a welcome luncheon with local family physicians, health care providers and community leaders.

The goal of the program is to allow physicians to find out if the community is a good match not only for them, but also for their spouses and their children.

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