Closing Campbell River’s last remaining walk-in medical clinic will leave many residents of the community without access to a family physician and impact the community’s emergency room, a local health advocacy group says.
“There are concerns with the last remaining walk-in-clinic in Campbell River closing,” says a statement from Lois Jarvis on behalf of Campbell River’s Citizens for Quality Health Care (CFQHC). “Unless a patient has a family physician to receive medical results, a patient cannot obtain any referrals for several tests including mammograms or referrals to specialists.
“Our hospital ER, which is already stretched, will be even more stretched with patients who have no family physician having to go to the ER for any medical requirements. We are told there are already long waits at the ER, although patients are encouraged to go there if they are in an emergency and they do get good care. All the hospital staff are excellent and do a great job in spite of being short staffed.”
The Quinsam Medical Walk-In Clinic located in the Willow Point neighbourhood is set to close Nov. 17 due to a shortage of staff as well as the Quinsam Medical Group’s remaining doctors operating at full capacity. Quinsam Medical Group operates a clinic in downtown Campbell River in addition to the walk-in clinic in the south end of town. In addition, CFQHC says that a doctor at Quinsam Medical will be retiring at the end of the year.
Like many other B.C communities, Campbell River has been dealing with a doctor shortage for some time. The Campbell River and District Division of Family Practice (DFP) appealed to city council back in January for its help in alleviating the situation. Campbell River at that time had 12 family practice physician and six specialist physician vacancies. In the 18 months prior to that, there had been eight family doctors who had left the community and gone unreplaced, DFP told council’s Jan. 12 meeting.
Since then, CFQHC says that three new doctors have been welcomed to Campbell River, two in family practice and one with extra training for the ER.
The DFP said the city could help with the recruitment of physicians as well as prioritize the permitting of health care facilities. The DFP said that a big aspect of the physician shortage is the retention of physicians in training or others considering the community as an option for their practice.
CFQHC met with Island Health and the Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital Board on Sept. 28 to discuss concerns and they met with Island Health again on Nov. 6.
CFQHC says the meetings were good and help “keep the lines of communication open.”