Qualicum Beach doctor leaving B.C. amid doctor shortage, patients scrambling for care

Qualicum Beach doctor leaving B.C. amid doctor shortage, patients scrambling for care

Kathy Wilson is bracing for the next round of health problems from her Multiple Sclerosis, because within weeks the Parksville woman will lose her family doctor, and the regular visits and shots she needs.

“I could risk losing my arms, my mobility, my vision, all sorts of things,” said Wilson, a 59-year-old Parksville resident.

Her family doctor, Dr. Jacques Simenhoff at Qualicum Beach’s Memorial Medical clinic, is closing up shop to move his practice to Alberta.

“Announcement to all patients of Dr. Simenhoff he’ll be closing his practice on February 11th. Please note that he has been unable to find a replacement doctor,” an announcement on the medical clinic’s reception phone line said on Saturday.

READ MORE: Municipalities limited in ability to address B.C. doctor shortage

“I think it’s bad because he’s such a nice doctor, I’d like to see him stay here,” said patient and Bowser resident Paul Lambert.

“He’s leaving because he says he can no longer work in B.C., he can’t afford to,” said Wilson.

According to Wilson, the Oceanside Health Centre won’t give her the shots she needs, and neither will pharmacists. So far she has struggled to secure a new doctor in the retirement community, that has grown at a tremendous rate.

“It seems next to impossible,” said Wilson.

According to the Parksville Chamber of Commerce the average family doctor carries a patient load of 1,500 to 2,000 clients.

“It is scary,” said Wilson.

READ MORE: Advocates call on B.C. government to ‘streamline’ licensing process to help fill doctor shortage

The doctor shortage on the South Island is being blamed for the impending closure of several medical clinics and an estimated 100,000 people are already without a family doctor there. Yet in the Oceanside-Parksville region, the problem could be even more serious as the average age here is 67 years old.

“We need some physicians here and we need them badly,” said Qualicum Beach Mayor Brian Wiese.

“I love this place, but with everything going on lately I am thinking that I may have to leave B.C. because of the medical system,” said Wilson.

Wiese said he has been working tirelessly with health partners, and the business community trying to promote a now empty medical clinic in Qualicum to any family physician willing to move there.

“Maybe entice someone to use a space that is rightfully already done. It’s perfect, move in, get to work,” said Wiese.

As Wilson wondered how long she can stay in a place that she soon won’t be able to receive the care she needs.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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