EDITORIAL: Time for an out-of-the-box solution to doctor shortage in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Thousands of people in this region are without a family physician

The movie is called The Grand Seduction (2013) and it stars Brendan Gleeson and Taylor Kitsch. It also won Gordon Pinsent a Genie Award for best supporting actor.

The gist is this: a dying Newfoundland fishing village (Tickle Head, pop. 120) can land a plastics factory and rejuvenate its town if it can prove it has a family doctor.

Suffice to say the lengths these people go to woo the doctor (they take up cricket, for example, and leave five-dollar bills lying around for the young doctor candidate to randomly find) are incredible, and quite funny.

Pinsent barely says a word, but steals every scene he’s in.

In the end, well, we don’t want to spoil it for you.

Lest you believe we’ve turned this space into a movie-review-of-the-week, we have a point.

Perhaps it’s time for us in Parksville Qualicum Beach to take up cricket.

In a matter of two weeks, hundreds of people lost a family doctor here. July 31 was Dr. Marlene Van der Weyde’s last day as the only family physician at the Oceanside Health Centre’s primary care department. This coming Saturday, Dr. Vadula Jayaraman closes the doors of his practice in Qualicum Beach.

He had 1,500 patients.

These losses come in a region that was already starved for family doctors. It’s not a stretch to suggest thousands of people are without a family physician in this region.

Island Health is not the bad guy here. In fact, there really isn’t a bad guy. But that doesn’t make the situation any better, or any safer.

Just like the Foundation of Oceanside Residents Associations (FORA) did almost a decade ago, it’s time for a grassroots effort to find out-of-the-box ways to attract family physicians to this region. It’s clear that relatively inexpensive housing and the fact we live in a seaside paradise is not enough.

Island Health, FORA, the Oceanside Division of Family Practice, town and city councils, MLAs and other groups need to band together soon to come up with a plan.

This region is home to the oldest people in the country, people who have paid taxes and built communities here and across the country. They need and deserve access to health care services in their golden years.

— Editorial by John Harding