Psychiatrist shortage in Parksville worries woman who spent a year trying to get one for her husband

Psychiatrist shortage in Parksville worries woman who spent a year trying to get one for her husband

A Parksville woman says a critical shortage of psychiatrists needs to be addressed in smaller island communities.

Sue McAlpine says it took a year for her husband Gary, who is dealing with severe depression and untreated mental illness, to finally see a psychiatrist.

Although Gary spent the last 13 weeks in hospital and is now getting the help he needs, one of the two psychiatrists in the area is leaving.

The remaining psychiatrist is going into private practice, leaving McAlpine worried that others will face the same delays getting the help that her husband did.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through this,” she said. “I don’t wish this on anybody. This has been a nightmare.”

McAlpine fought hard to get her husband the help he needed, even pleading that he be admitted to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

“We were both sort of spiraling down because he was basically in bed all the time and he wasn’t getting better, he was on a lot of medication but it wasn’t helping,” she said.

Just last week was sent to the neuropsychiatrist unit at UBC Hospital for more specific care that she hopes will finally help him.

“His doctor at the hospital, a psychiatrist, whom I’m very grateful for and all the staff there, they reached out to UBC and they were able to get him in there,” McAlpine added.

But McAlpine wonders whether Gary’s depression and anxiety would be as bad as it is now had been able to see a psychiatrist much sooner.

“I’m grateful he’s getting wonderful care now but I don’t want anybody else to go through this.”

Recruiting psychiatrists is a national challenge according to Island Health, who told CHEK News in a statement that the recruitment of psychiatrists is a “key priority.”

“We have had success in recruiting over the past several months,” the health authority said.

But McAlpine says she would like to see incentives to attract and keep specialists like psychiatrists in smaller places like Parksville.

Island Health does offer walk-in access to services for people who are dealing with moderate to severe mental health challenges at the Oceanside Health Centre Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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