West Shore clinic the latest victim of Island’s doctor shortage

West Shore clinic the latest victim of Island's doctor shortage
A closed sign is shown at the Colwood Medical Treatment Centre on Jan. 25, 2022.

Another week, another announcement of a walk-in clinic located on the West Shore closing.

The latest is the Colwood Medical Treatment Centre, owned by Dr. John Coburn.

The clinic announced on its website that it will close April 15 after 20 years, in no small part due to the struggle of attracting available doctors.

“We’ve been struggling to get family doctors to join us in our attempt to keep the walk-in open,” Coburn told CHEK News Tuesday.

The clinic’s family practice will remain, but the thousands of patients who rely on the clinic will be out of luck, according to Coburn.

“I believe we’re going to have a perfect storm here, a crisis, trying to deal with the thousands of people who don’t have family physicians,” he said.

The news means all the private clinics with walk-ins in the area are closing.

That leaves only the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre to operate a walk-in clinic in B.C.’s fastest-growing region.

Earlier this month, doctors at another West Shore clinic announced their walk-in would close April 25, affecting 3,000 patients.

The married physicians, Dr. George Zabakolas and Dr. Chelsie Velikovsky, announced the pressures of running the clinic are too onerous.

“The system is very very difficult and very draining on us and it comes down to lots of different things. But ultimately it comes down to what’s best for our family,” they said.

A key issue is the growing number of residents without a doctor who have complex care needs, according to Leslie Keenan, interim director, South Island Division of Family Practice.

“That doesn’t fit within with the 10-minute, fee-for-service when you are particularly dealing with mental health issues,” she said. “To provide good quality care you want to spend more time with those patients than a 10-minute bill will allow you.”

According to Doctors of BC, an estimated 100,000 people in the Greater Victoria area do not have access to a family doctor.

And with more clinics closing their walk-ins, that number will grow substantially.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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