A small group of people braved the cold Monday morning to rally around an Altona family physician.
In January, PembinaValleyOnline reported local clinic administration had asked Dr. Tahseen Mahdi to close his practice at the clinic by March 10th. A clinic official gave no specifics on why Dr. Mahdi had been asked to leave,except to say there were some internal issues, and he was no longer a good fit for the clinic.
Monday's rally took place outside the clinic with about 15 supporters calling on the clinic to keep Dr. Mahdi on staff.
"Dr. Mahdi is a very good doctor," said Cary Kehler, one of the supporters participating in the demonstration. "He's always thorough, keenly interested in whatever your case might be. He shows genuinely that he cares for you. I like him, it's nice to have a good doctor in town, and I want to keep him here."
Fellow supporter Lisa Braun says Dr. Mahdi always made himself available to his patients, and never made her feel like he didn't have time for her.
"Even if he is busy and has a hundred patients waiting, he'll make every patient feel like they're number one," she said.
Dr. Mahdi had returned to his practice in January after serving a four month suspension by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba for an incident that occurred in a different community prior to his arrival in Altona. That particular situation was of little concern to these patients who feel the doctor is needed in the community.
"Dr. Mahdi is a caring person, and we need to keep him. He doesn't just give out a bunch of pills like we're guinea pigs. He cares about us," said Tina Klassen, another supporter of Dr. Mahdi.
An online petition requesting to keep Dr. Mahdi on staff has already surpassed 600 signatures.
Clinic manager Artan Fetaht says he's not surprised by that show of support for the doctor.
"We were expecting this. We know Dr. Mahdi has a good bedside manner, and he does have a good relationship with his patients."
It would appear, however, neither the rally nor the petition to keep the doctor on staff is going to gaining much traction.
"We believe it will still happen, and we still believe it is the right way to go for the Altona Clinic. Of course, we do care about the opinions of our patients, and we do note them, however, I do not think this is going to change our mind," said Fetaht.
The departure of Dr. Mahdi next month will not change the physician numbers as a new doctor has joined the medical staff. Dr. Sulaiman Wasan started her practice earlier this month, maintaining Altona's physician numbers at four.