Physician shortages continue to affect West Shore residents, with a clinic closing its doors on Sundays and a new family doctor being flooded with requests to take on patients.
The Colwood Medical Treatment Centre on Sooke Road posted a sign on the door as well as on the clinic’s website, notifying patients it will no longer be open on Sundays due to a physician shortage.
The centre has both family practice and walk-in patients but says to consult the Medimap site if looking for a clinic that is open on Sundays. On the West Shore, two other walk-in clinics are open on Sundays according to the Medimap website.
The Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre, which opened in November, celebrated its 5,000th patient just over three months after opening. The centre is one of the walk-in clinics open on Sundays.
At the 5,000th patient celebration, Deborah Cracknell — director of community health services for Sooke, Esquimalt and the West Shore — said it is estimated about 30,000 people in the western communities do not have a family physician or a primary care provider.
The primary care centre sees about 50 to 60 patients per day on average.
Cheryl Bloxham, media relations officer for Island Health said the authority is “very much aware of physician shortages occurring in communities across the region, the province and even the country.”
Bloxham said Island health is working with its partners to find solutions to the shortage.
“This includes working as a partner with the Ministry of Health, Divisions of Family Practice and other partners to accelerate the province’s primary health-care strategy.”
So far, Island Health has opened the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre and the Medical Arts Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Nanaimo. Bloxham said the health authority is working towards establishing primary care networks in Island communities.
Recently, Dr. Tania Wall opened a family practice in View Royal at Admirals Medical Clinic. As soon as news spread about a new practice the office was inundated with calls and filled up within 2.5 days, according to a letter Wall sent to View Royal Council for Tuesday night’s meeting.
“We have received stacks of intake forms completed by people in their 90s who have been more than a decade without a family doctor,” the letter reads. “There are young families, mothers, babies. There are people with multiple specialists for their chronic disease, yet no family doctor to walk with them on their health journey.”
In the letter, Wall says family physicians are not opening or managing community practices due to high overhead costs, low compensation compared to other provinces and avenues and a “nearly unattainable cost of living.”
Citing a recent announcement about Esquimalt’s plans to create an urgent care clinic, Wall says more urgent care and walk-in clinics are a “band-aid solution only and should be treated as such.”
“The longitudinal care of a person by a family physician is not only what your communities want (demonstrated by the line up at my doors), but also what improves the health of your populations,” Wall’s letter reads.
Wall has asked for a chance to sit down with View Royal Mayor David Screech and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins to discuss options to improve “the current lack of support that is being offered to new and existing family physicians” in the communities.
“Certainly, any help would be greatly appreciated — both by your overburdened force of family physicians and by your communities who are clearly desperate for attachment to a family doctor,” said Wall in the letter.
Black Press Media has reached out to the B.C. Ministry of Health and the Colwood Medical and Treatment Centre for comment.