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.”
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.
Those include managing staff, taking care of leases and procuring their own supplies.
“(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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.View link »