The new Oceanside Health Centre was front and centre in the B.C. legislature Wednesday as Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser queried why it has been declared open when there are no physicians working there.
“Why was there a grand opening when the health authority has not been able to convince any doctors to take part in this facility so far,” Fraser asked.
In response, Health Minister Terry Lake, who was present at the opening, said the facility will be phased in with regards to the services it offers, starting with environmental health, medical imaging and outpatient laboratory services.
“That has started,” he said. “Urgent care will open in September, as well as medical daycare and primary care later in September.”
As far as recruiting doctors is concerned, Lake said it’s a work in progress.
“I understand that the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has been working closely with the Oceanside Division of Family Practice,” Lake said. “They haven’t come to an agreement at this particular time in terms of servicing the Oceanside Health Centre, but they are working and talking about different models of payment and I’m confident that (VIHA) and the Division of Family Practice will come up with a solution.”
That’s not how Fraser sees it though. He noted a press release announcing the opening of the centre in June said the centre is “now open to provide patients with complete urgent, primary and community-based health care services.”
“How many potential patients, how many people have shown up at the Oceanside Health Centre since the announcement of the grand opening for health services to the public from VIHA … thinking they could get a doctor’s assistance?”
Lake took exception to this characterization of the situation, calling it “incredibly negative about an amazing facility.”
“There is medical imaging that has started, outpatient laboratory services that start. Urgent care will start in September, Medical daycare and primary care later in September.”
Noting that medical imaging services had been available prior to the facility’s opening Fraser suggested as many as 40 people visited the health centre during the first week of its opening, looking for medical services, including some who were suffering chest pains.