Five months from its scheduled opening, the Oceanside Health Centre (OHC) still does not have the physicians required to provide the services and open for the hours promised by the provincial government.
Repeated attempts by The NEWS to elicit comment from local doctors about their plans or opinions about the health centre have proven fruitless. Nanaimo radiologist David Coupland, who was acclaimed as the B.C. Conservative Party candidate for the Parksville Qualicum constituency last weekend, said he believes local physicians may be reticent to comment or even co-operate with the formation of the new health centre because "none of the doctors were actually involved in the decision from the get-go."
"There's really nothing in it for them (local physicians)," said Coupland. "For them it just means expanding their hours and working weekends."
In an e-mail sent to The NEWS on Tuesday, Sheila Cruikshank, the director of community integration and service development for the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and the future director of the health centre, said she is still confident the facility will have the staff required for its scheduled opening in June.
"We have already had expressions of interest from physicians interested in this role and we do not anticipate any problems finding an excellent physician work team to provide care through the OHC to Oceanside residents," she wrote.
Cruikshank also wrote in the e-mail that "VIHA will be seeking proposals from physicians interested in providing services in the OHC in the coming weeks. This will be done through an expression of Interest process."
Cruikshank also described the kind of physician VIHA is searching for in regards to the OHC, and what that doctor could expect.
"This kind of physician role will appeal to physicians who are interested in working as part of a health care team, focusing on wellness and prevention as well as treatment and care," she wrote. "It will also very much appeal to physicians who are interested in regular, known, work hours and the corresponding work/life balance they would get from knowing their work hours."
On Nov. 30, 2012, VIHA announced it had purchased Parksville X-Ray and will move its services into the centre. On Dec. 20, 2012, VIHA announced it had posted for two nurse practitioners' positions for the OHC.
In October of 2012, Cruikshank told The NEWS she was optimistic staff would be in place by the OHC's June opening date and be open for the hours originally promised by the provincial government (7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., seven days a week).