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Second Vernon walk-in clinic set to close

Vernon clinic crunch

You may soon be waiting longer to see a doctor at a walk-in clinic in Vernon.

The Gartree Medical Clinic is set to close on March 24, making it the second Vernon walk-in clinic to shut its doors in just under a year.

Read More: Vernon walk-in clinic cuts hours

Some people in Vernon aren’t pleased to see another clinic in the city close, whether they used it or not.

They are concerned that the shutdown will only make it more difficult to see a doctor at other clinics in the city.

“People are using walk-in clinics as their regular doctors. They are going there and getting prescriptions,” said Charlie McGarrity.

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“There [are] already long waits in the other clinics in town.”
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A Gartree staff member said the clinic is closing because it’s down to only one doctor and he can’t keep operating the walk-in alone.

Last March, the Vernon Family Doctors Clinic shut its doors for good because there weren’t enough doctors to staff it.

A new walk-in clinic opened up to take its place, but there’s no indications that will happen this time.

In a letter, the doctors behind Gartree Medical Clinic said making the decision to close wasn’t easy but they haven’t been able to find anyone to take over the practice.

They said anyone looking for a family physician can use the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia website.

However, there are only two Vernon doctors on the site who are taking new patients.

“There is a big shortage of doctors and I don’t know what we are going to do about it but we need to do something about it,” said McGarrity.

As another clinic gets set to close because of lack of doctors, the province says it’s doing what it can to bolster the number of doctors working in British Columbia.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster said the province has added more medical school spaces and more residency spaces for foreign-trained doctors.

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“Each year, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. licenses approximately 700 new doctors as practitioners in B.C. These doctors are either trained in B.C., come from other provinces or emigrate from other countries,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

Foster called the walk-in clinic’s closure “unfortunate” but said, “at the end of the day, walk-in clinics are a private business and if they can’t recruit staff, they can’t recruit them.”