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Lack of doctors one of many concerns raised by Parksville Qualicum Beach residents

No major recruitment of family physicians currently ongoing
Residents talk to a panel of health officials during the ‘A Conversation About Health Care’ event at the Parksville Community Centre on Friday, May 10. — Michael Briones photo

The lack of family physicians is one of many concerns raised by residents at a public meeting organized by the Oceanside Division of Family Practice.

Unfortunately, according to Dr. Mark Morris, there is currently no major effort to recruit new doctors to the area. Morris shared the information to residents who attended ‘A Conversation About Health Care’ event at the Parksville Community Centre on Friday, May 10. A similar event was also held Thursday night (May 9) at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.

“There’s no clinic requesting a family physician,” Morris told residents. “There’s no kind of committee that kind of looks at that and says there should be an X-number of family physicians in an area. It’s basically then luck, chance, circumstance.”

Morris told The News it’s doctors that often do the recruiting to fill vacancies in their practice or to replace themselves. A Qualicum Beach clinic had to close down as it had difficulties recruiting doctors to the area.

Morris was one of the panel members at the meetings that included Parksville Qualicum Beach physician Gina Bell, nurse practioner Rosemary Graham, Island Health’s director of public health, Jan Tatlock, and Island Health’s executive medical director, Ben Williams. They listened to concerns and issues raised by residents and also answered some of their queries.

The Oceanside Division of Family Practice, a local non-profit society of community-based primary care physicians, in collaboration with Island Health is looking for a way to improve health care services in the region.

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Evelyn Clark, executive director of the ODFP, said all the input collected from three community engagements as well as from talks with family physicians, nurse practitioners, urgent care physicians, palliative care network, Snaw-Naw-As clinic, Perfect Storm Group and managers from Island Health’s community, mental health and public health programs will be used to create a three-year sevice plan that will be submitted to the Ministry of Health for funding considerations.

The most common concerns expressed by residents during the two public meetings were the lack of physicians, longer wait times, difficult access to medical services, inadequate health resources and funding.

Clark said the service will focus on three areas — attachment to doctors, increasing access and integrating services. They aim to submit the service plan to the ministry by the end of June.

“We are hoping to work with the the ministry and to be able activate the service plan within a year,” said Clark.

The plan will include establishing a multi-discipline facility that will involve different health care providers such as registered nurse.

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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