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Island Health: two doctors, new clinic space to avert Port McNeill health crisis

Island Health has leased space to use as an immediate clinic location to avert health crisis

Longstanding fears of a looming health care shortage in Port McNeill may have finally been addressed.

Island Health announced in a media release this morning that it has secured two temporary physicians and leased space within the community to ensure residents of the region have continued access to primary care services.

The move appears to address ongoing concerns tied to the departure of one of the community’s two current physicians this month and the continued viability of the private clinic operated by the other.

“Beginning in May, Dr. Nicole Bennett-Boutilier will provide temporary primary care services, as well as coverage at Port McNeill Hospital. In June, Dr. John Fitzgerald will begin providing temporary primary care services,” the release states.

Island Health also noted it has leased space at 1584 Broughton Blvd in Port McNeill to use as an immediate clinic location to support primary care appointments while a long-term model is developed.

“It is important to note this location is not a walk-in clinic and will be for booked appointments only. The two physicians will also support the Port McNeill Medical Collaborative, which will remain open and continue to provide primary care appointments at this time.”

The Collaborative’s Dr. Prean Armogam will continue to work at the Port McNeill Medical Clinic. Island Health thanked him for his continued leadership and commitment to providing health care services to the community.

“Island Health remains committed to the vision of establishing a health authority owned and operated primary care clinic in Port McNeill,” stated the release. “A recent Request for Proposals for suitable clinic space has closed and the process is underway. The support of the two additional physicians and use of the leased space are considered an interim solution while the new primary care model is established and recruitment of permanent physician coverage continues.”

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom was pleased to hear the announcement from Island Health. She said that together with the ‘Namgis First Nation (from nearby Cormorant Island), the town will continue to work with Island Health to determine a better model of health care for our region.

“While we still have work to do for our long term future, we are pleased at the relatively swift progress being made to remedy the current physician crisis. We’d like to thank residents for their patience and Dr. Armogam for doing what he is able to meet daily health care needs.”

RELATED: Solution pending to Port McNeill health care uncertainty?

RELATED: Departing doctor cuts Port McNeill staffing in half, raises questions about clinic’s future

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More info about health care services in Port McNeill

Island Health is working with multiple physician partners and groups to ensure ongoing physician coverage at Port McNeill Hospital. In partnership with the remaining local physician, physicians from neighbouring communities and physician locums, physician coverage has been scheduled for the hospital.

Beginning May 19, people who want to see either Dr. Bennett-Boutilier or Dr. Fitzgerald can phone 1-866-956-2007 to schedule appointments.

First Nations communities and individuals can also access the First Nations Health Authority’s First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day services from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., seven days a week. Indigenous people and their family members can access the program to address their health and wellness needs. Please call 1-855-344-3800 to book an appointment.

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