Doctor Chris Burnett of the Open Health Medical Clinic says his wife, who is also a doctor in the community, has a serious illness and, as he supports her, the pair will not be able to work.
Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck said that means the town’s clinic may close, at least temporarily.
Dyck adds the town, which had a population of roughly 4,000 during the 2016 census, is already facing a shortage of healthcare professionals.
“We do have … physician assistants and nurse practitioners, it’s just that right now some are away on maternity leave and other things.” Dyck says that has left the clinic staff a “little bit thin right now.”
“And now with this, that just further compounds what was.”
Dyck said Niverville’s town council continues to look into the situation.
“We’re obviously trying to get more of the details and we’re obviously trying to be sensitive to the doctors as they’re dealing with a lot,” he said.
“Some of these things need a little bit more time to breathe, we’re working with them and council is right now just asking questions and trying to find answers to some of the questions.”
Burnett tells Global News he has no immediate timeline on when the clinic may close and is trying his best to stay open as long as possible.
He said under normal operations the clinic has three full-time doctors including his wife and him, but the third physician is away on maternity leave until April.
There are also two part-time doctors working a few times a week helping him keep up with patients, but wait times are being affected.
He said the closest clinic is roughly 19 km away St. Pierre-Jolys, but, should his clinic close, he’s not sure the St. Pierre-Jolys clinic is taking patients.
Burnett said he’s been speaking with other physicians who may be able to come in temporarily to see patients and keep the clinic open should he be forced to step away from the practice, but nothing has been finalized yet.
“We’re trying to stay open, we owe it to our patients … but we are struggling” he said, adding he and his wife have worked in Niverville for 15 years.
“We live in the community, we love Niverville.”
Niverville is about 32 km southeast of Winnipeg.
–With files from Clay Young