As a doctor clinic sits empty, Colwood considers ‘municipal model’ for family care

CHEK

Colwood residents say family physicians in their community are “desperately needed.” The city is currently significantly undeserved, with walk-ins and emergency the only option for health care.

Based on its population, the City of Colwood says it needs 18 full-time family doctors to be self-sufficient.

But after its only family doctor practice closed its doors in June, the city currently has zero full-time family doctors.

“Hell, just today, I had a patient tell me their doctor is leaving,” said Dr. Jesse Pewarchuk, a View Royal physician, in an interview with CHEK News.

To address the current family doctor shortage, Pewarchuk hatched up a plan that would bridge the private and public domain, inspired by the European models of municipalities providing health care.

“I was watching the gradual burning down of the healthcare system,” said Pewarchuk.

“We essentially built out the framework of a healthcare clinic model where every resident of Colwood would be entitled to care at the clinic.”

The plan was brought to the City of Colwood in partnership with Pure Pharmacy in Royal Bay.

“Colwood currently has no family doctors. And we’re only growing,” said Mohamed Zeid with Pure Pharmacy Royal Bay.

“We’re expecting another 14,000 growth in population just from the development of one area on the seaside, so we will double the population in less than two to three years.”

Pure Pharmacy Royal Bay in The Commons has a doctor’s clinic that’s been sitting empty since construction finished in October 2023.

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Those who live in the area say family doctors are “desperately needed.”

“The West Shore is growing so much,” said Stephanie Taylor. “As a young family that’s getting sick all the time, it would have been really nice to have.”

To help address the current physician shortage in Colwood, council has asked staff to gather information and return to council to explore participating directly or in partnership in the operations of this clinic.

Colwood’s mayor, Doug Kobayashi, says the funding would come from a corporate contingency budget.

“We call it the municipal model,” said Kobayashi. “We can build all these facilities we want, but if we can’t attract doctors and retain them, we have a problem.”

It’s not unheard of that a few municipalities in British Columbia have chosen to deliver health care services either as a partner, a co-founder or as the primary delivery agent.

“We’ve got all of the pieces we think here to put something really special together in Colwood, something that could be duplicated all over British Columbia if it’s successful in Colwood,” added Pewarchuk.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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