Campbell River’s only walk-in clinic for unattached patients is set to close

Campbell River's only walk-in clinic for unattached patients is set to close

Campbell River is about to lose its only walk-in medical clinic.

The Quinsam Medical Walk In Clinic in Campbell River’s Willow Point neighbourhood will close permanently after its last full day on Nov. 17 to people who aren’t connected to one of its family doctors.

The clinic has been hearing from those who will be impacted.

“They’re frustrated and we understand that, but our doctors just can’t take on more patients and it’s like that all over Campbell River, all over B.C.,” said Barb Baldwin, who is a Licensed Practical Nurse with the Quinsam Medical Group.

The only walk-in medical clinic in the Okanagan town of Vernon is also closing mid-November.

Staffing and costs

One of the reasons being given for the closure is a College of Physician rule that requires doctors to take on a walk-in patient if they’re most responsible for their care. The eight doctors at the practice say they can’t take on any more patients as they’re already swamped.

“They have other things they do outside of the practice. There’s surgery, maternity and [emergency] and they all have full practices as it is,” said Baldwin.

The other issue is staffing. They’ve already lost two doctors and have been trying to split coverage between the Willow Point walk-in clinic and their main one in downtown Campbell River.

“There’s two staff members that have to go there and two doctors that had to go there and it was a long day, plus the building cost and the supply cost which is all paid by these doctors. Nothing is paid by Island Health,” said Baldwin.

Campbell River Mayor Kermit Dahl says it’s unfortunate to see the clinic close as there are thousands in his community without a doctor. He’s calling on the province to help bring in more.

“Certainly, they could allow some of the people who have been barred from working because they’re not vaccinated. That would add some people to the work force for sure, and then there’s doctors coming from other countries that are struggling to provide a service. It’s very difficult to get a license in British Columbia,” said Dahl.

It’s a new reality many here are struggling to come to terms with.

“It’s sad. Access to medical care is really important and there’s a lot of talk about lack of family doctors,” said Campbell River resident Drew Betts.

“I have a friend who has Type 2 diabetes and she needs a lot more guidance and she doesn’t have a doctor and she needs care and it’s actually really scary,” said Amanda Dunstan, another Campbell River resident.

But how exactly to fix the problem remains an issue the town, and the province, will have to dig deep to solve.

On Nov. 3, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said the province is aware of issues with episodic, or walk-in, care and that’s why it has been investing in urgent primary care centres across the province.

“Across the province, we’ve started urgent primary care centres in 30 communities,” Dix said. “In Campbell River, we’ve significantly invested in primary care networks in that community…and we’re just going to keep working with the community to make sure that people have options for care. We know there are people are not attached to family doctors so we need to work to provide other options for them.”

In 2019, the province announced funding for an urgent and primary care centre in Nanaimo.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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