North Okanagan clinics look overseas to find doctors

Doctor shortages felt countrywide, but rural areas hardest hit

Only one full-time family doctor is currently serving more than 6,000 people relying on the health-care facility in Lumby, but this isn’t an uncommon phenomenon in rural areas said Ev Reade, chairperson of Lumby and District Health Services Society (LDHSS). However, she said finding more doctors is a challenge.

Reade said the LDHSS advertised across Canada and didn’t receive a single application, but she said she is feeling “hopeful” that new doctors can be found internationally.

Five international medical graduates have applied to work in Lumby, but the final decision does not rest with the applicant or the Health Society. Rather, the international graduate program coordinators will have final say based on needs of the communities that applied and the graduates’ skill sets, Reade explained.

“Hopefully we get one of these international graduates,” she said. “If we do get one, they would start in the summer of 2020.”

Reade said the non-profit organization she represents offers the international graduates tours of the Health Centre and the community to show them the rural life.

“The stated comments have been they like the area,” she said. “They’re happy with the clinic, happy with the support. Our last applicant we had — so far, Lumby is his first choice, but he had other (communities) he had to go to.”

“Lumby is such a beautiful area if you’re an outdoor enthusiast at all,” Reade said. “There’s lakes, hiking, horseback riding, hang gliding and we’re so close to SilverStar and Big White and four-to-five hours from Vancouver.

“We have a little more to offer than some other rural areas with our close proximity to larger centres,” she said.

Patients feel the short(age) end of the stick

The doctor shortage is being felt in communities across Canada, Reade said, but there is great incentive to work in British Columbia’s rural areas.

“The B.C. government and Doctors of BC offer a one-time payment of $9,000 if you come and set up in a rural community,” she said, noting doctors also receive a reimbursement of three per cent of MSP billings.

But ultimately, doctors choose where they want to live and work and its the patients in rural communities that suffer.

“They’re frustrated because it’s difficult for many to have access,” Reade said.

The doctor shortage affects the continuity of care, Reade said.

“A lot of people don’t bother and of course, that compounds their medical issues if it’s left too late.”

Transportation presents a major barrier that is underscored by the shortage of health-care providers in rural areas.

Bus service in Lumby is not adequate for patients, especially those with mobility issues, to utilize for health-care purposes and taxi services, Reade said, are a costly option that challenges those living on a limited income.

A part-time physician is serving the community to help fill the gap, Reade said. And Lumby has been green-lighted to hire a nurse practitioner by Interior Health although a start date has yet to be determined.

In a perfect world…

Reade said “hypothetically” allowing medical professionals to complete some of their practicum serving small communities could be helpful.

“They deal with the same issues in the big city or a small town,” Reade said.

“Illness is illness.”


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vees to recognize local first responders at tonight’s game

First Responders Night offers free tickets to responders in the community.

RDOS cannabis production bylaw goes to public hearing

Hearing on micro cannabis production facilities will be held Nov. 21

Growing cherries, apples, pears — and big pumpkins

Boerboom worked to produce a massive melon from his Summerland farm

Drivers warn of slippery conditions on the Coquihalla

Snow is falling at the Summit of the Coquihalla

RDOS issues 405 building permits in first nine months of 2019

Construction activity higher this year than during same period last year

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Hundreds turn out for Singh, NDP candidate rally in Penticton

The messaging was clear, NDP “chooses you”

Summerland holds multiple events to launch festive season

Festival of Lights, Light Up the Vines and Sip ’n’ Shop will be held in late November and December

PET OF THE WEEK: Moose still needs a home

Critteraid cat wants a nice, quiet environment

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Penticton Vees to host 2021 Centennial Cup

It’s the first time Penticton has hosted the tournament which decides the country’s Junior A champions

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Most Read