Advertisement

B.C.’s family doctors say they’re facing burnout amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video: 'B.C. family doctors calling for more support during COVID-19' B.C. family doctors calling for more support during COVID-19
B.C. family doctors calling for more support during COVID-19 – Oct 3, 2020

B.C. family doctors say they’re facing burnout and are in need of more support as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

“The pandemic has really shone a light on the cracks in the primary care system,” Dr. Renee Fernandez, executive director of BC Family Doctors told Global News.

“The issues that were there before are only amplified 10 and 100-fold now.”

Read more: No end in sight to B.C.’s doctor shortage as major online resource disappears

Fernandez’s organization released a report this week highlighting what it says are those cracks, and where the province needs to go to protect family medicine.

The group highlights extra pressures family doctors, who it describes as small business people as well as physicians, have faced in comparison to their colleagues in hospital settings.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'B.C. patients turning to virtual doctors during COVID-19 pandemic' B.C. patients turning to virtual doctors during COVID-19 pandemic
B.C. patients turning to virtual doctors during COVID-19 pandemic – Mar 26, 2020

Those include managing staff, taking care of leases and procuring their own supplies.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“(Personal protective equipment) and the lack of supplies to the clinic has absolutely limited the number of people we’re able to see in person,” she said.

Read more: How to find a family doctor in each province and territory

When the pandemic hit, family doctors also found themselves responsible for pivoting to virtual care, which involved buying the technology and learning how to use it, she said.

Dr. Maryam Zeineddin, a West Vancouver family doctor, said she’s seen first hand the impact the pandemic has had on her colleagues.

“I know for a fact that a lot of physicians are burnt out and they’re exhausted and they need help to help their patients,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'B.C. wait times longer for walk-in clinics' B.C. wait times longer for walk-in clinics
B.C. wait times longer for walk-in clinics – Dec 18, 2019

With four in 10 family doctors already over the age of 50, she said she’s also worried about the pressure on the system as physicians begin to retire or reduce their hours.

About 700,000 British Columbians are already without a family doctor, something Zeineddin said could get worse.

Read more: Province pledges health worker hiring spree as it announces Burnaby Urgent and Primary Care Centre

“What’s happening is that the graduating physicians that are coming out from our medical schools are seeing all the complexities of what is happening with our primary care system and getting more and more discouraged,” she said.

B.C.’s Ministry of Health says there are resources available to family doctors.

The province has also announced the creation of 22 new primary care networks to try and expand access for British Columbians without a doctor.

Story continues below advertisement

But Fernandez said that’s not enough, and that she wants the issue front and centre as candidates campaign for the Oct. 24 provincial election.

Sponsored content