UBCM/Scott McAlpine photo

Local officals working with govt on doctor shortage in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Qualicum Beach mayor says lack of physicians “more profound” in region

A “profound” lack of family physicians in the area has prompted local officials to take action with the provincial government.

Regional District of Nanaimo Chair Bill Veenhof, Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre and Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek and members of the councils of Parksville and Qualicum Beach met with Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell and Minister of Health Adrian Dix on Sept. 27, during the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention.

The minister and his staff were briefed by the elected local representatives on the challenges that exist in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area for recruiting and retaining physicians.

Westbroek said while there is a problem of attracting and retaining family physicians in other areas, he said, “in this area it’s even more profound.”

“There is a severe shortage of family physicians generally all over Canada, but I believe in this area it’s even more profound because of the aging population,” said Westbroek, adding doctors in the area are aging and retiring and seniors, generally, take people care than younger people.

Westbroek told The NEWS that before UBCM it was decided between the municipalities and the RDN that, whichever group got a meeting with Dix, it would invite the others to participate. Westbroek said it was Parksville that received the meeting.

“It shows that we’re not just talking about one small community, we’re talking about the whole Oceanside area of about 50,000 people and there are a lot of people without family physicians and there’s going to be a lot more,” Westbroek said.

One of the resources the municipalities and the RDN are looking into, Westbroek said, is for nurse practitioners to have billing numbers so they can work in doctors’ offices to provide services. Westbroek also said 78 per cent of the work doctors do can be done by nurse practitioners.

The area, according to a news release from the RDN, presently has about 50,000 residents with considerable growth projected for at least 15 years due to “baby boomer” retirements and economic development. Nearly one-in-four residents are unable to find a family physician in the region.

“We need provincial policy and regulatory support via changes to remove current obstacles to help our residents find a family physician in Oceanside,” Lefebvre said.

Locally a group of community leaders and concerned physicians have been brought together to work on this broad-based community initiative.

“Many want to look at effective ways to utilize and integrate existing health-care resources to find a solution now,” Westbroek said.

The Qualicum Beach – Parksville Healthcare Foundation was created to develop and operate a non-profit, team-based multi-disciplinary facility that will provide an attractive environment for younger practitioners. The objective is to more effectively utilize and integrate existing community health care resources, and absorb the thousands of unattached patients of the Parksville-Qualicum Beach region.

Westbroek said it’s the town’s responsibility to advocate for more doctors in the region, adding that during the meeting Dix seemed open to suggestions.

Opportunities for future innovative partnerships were explored to provide comprehensive healthcare in the area. Dix said he was aware of the current challenges and indicated that future discussions will take place to work towards solutions.

— with files from the RDN

Just Posted

Canadians on epic journey arrive in Nanoose

Snaw-Naw-As First Nation welcomes participants of Canada C3 voyage

Kwalikum Secondary student back from year in Netherlands

Don’t pass up opportunity to travel with Qualicum Beach Rotary’s help, says Taylor Hunter

Resident slam loud dynamite blasting at Cedar Ridge Estate development

Sleigh feels insulted by Mayor Lefebrve who failed to understand their suffering

RDN creates new service to fund INfilm

Regional district to enter three year agreement with film commision for annual funding of $50,000

Bowser school asks RDN to double funding for outdoor learning area

From $30,000 to $60,000 for Tulnuxw Lelum Cultural Learning Space

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Update: Gens split weekend in Parksville

Junior B hockey club tops Westshore, falls to Victoria in home games

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Police on motorcycles tap on windows of distracted drivers in Nanaimo

Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Cameron Miller says a police motorcycle has been effective in enforcement

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Kellers Jewellers in Lantzville suffers break-in

Incident happened around 5:30 a.m. Oct. 21, say police.

Most Read