January 7, 2019 8:57 pm
Updated: January 8, 2019 12:10 am

Okanagan community faces losing all of its doctors

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The community of Peachland is facing a doctor shortage crisis.

“I’m very concerned,” Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin said. “This is really serious business.”

The community of roughly 5,500 people, many of them seniors, may lose its only medical clinic.

The owner and medical director of the Beach Avenue Medical Clinic is retiring at the end of March and has been unable to find a new owner to take over the practice.

With the clinic’s impending closure, the four other physicians who practice there have no choice but to move on.

Three of them have already announced they are relocating — two to West Kelowna and one to Summerland. The remaining doctor has yet to announce where he plans to go.

The situation has left residents deeply concerned.

“I’m horrified, I think that’s awful,” Peachland resident Sherry Hart told Global News. “A lot of them (seniors) don’t like to travel, they don’t want to go to Summerland or West Kelonwa, they try to avoid it.”

Doctor shortages are nothing new in B.C. In fact, a similar situation is unfolding in Okanagan Falls.

READ MORE: ‘It’s devastating’: no replacement for retiring Okanagan Falls doctor

Peachland Mayor Cindy Fortin has already contacted the local MLA about the situation. She said Dan Ashton told her that bringing the situation to the attention of the the province’s health minister will be a priority when the legislature sits in early February.

Fortin also said she will be discussing the problem with her fellow council members.

“We have a council meeting tomorrow and I will definitely bring up this subject,” she said. “Perhaps we can partner with higher levels of government, maybe IHA [Interior health Authority] will help us a bit and we’ll see if there is something we can do to make it better, to not see this one close or at least bring in a doctor as soon as possible.”

The Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice is the local body that helps recruit doctors. It’s aware of the situation in Peachland and issued the following statement to Global News via e-mail.

“We do have Peachland clinic listed as recruiting and they will remain on our list as long as they have an identified physician contact,” executive director Tristan Smith said.

“Of course we cannot guarantee when or if recruitment visits will occur or be successful, yet we are hopeful that at some time an individual physician or group of physicians will consider Peachland to set up a family practice.”

The Peachland clinic is slated to close on March 31.

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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