Quadra Island is facing a quandary when it comes to medical care, says Jim Abram the island’s Strathcona Regional District director.
At the June 6 meeting of the Strathcona Regional District board, he asked his colleagues to support a motion to write the Ministry of Health and the Island Health Authority about losing medical services. The motion passed unanimously.
“There’s two clinics on the island, and one of them is closing,” Abram said. “We’re going to have around a thousand people looking for a doctor.”
At one of the offices, a doctor is retiring and the other is moving, which also leaves a local nurse-practitioner without space in which to work. Another doctor’s office, Abram said, is not in a position to expand service.
“The other clinic has absolutely zero space,” he said.
Along with the loss of doctors and the nurse-practitioner service, the residents face losing lab service hours, which happen two times a week, and mental health services that run out of the office.
Abram said this situation means many residents will be putting greater pressure on the medical facilities in Campbell River.
“It is going to be a capacity issue for the North Island Hospital,” he said.
The loss of the doctors will also mean extra ferry trips that will only benefit BC Ferries, as patients will be provided travel-assistance forms that require public funding to cover the trips.
“That has been estimated to be in the millions of dollars,” he said.
Area B Director Noba Anderson said the community on Cortes Island faced a similar situation a few years ago.
Cortes, though, formed a community medical association that owns the health centre and has a team of four doctors to share the practice and rotate shifts, often doing locums or having shared practices in other communities.
“We had a very, very hard time finding a single doctor,” she said. “That’s going to be increasingly the case across Canada. Single doctors don’t want to have these kinds of practices.”
Abram responded by saying Quadra is looking at such solutions over the long term but because there was not currently any community-owned property, they need an answer for the short term to make up for the loss of the doctors.
“That could take a while to set up a clinic, to set up a non-profit society,” he said. “It’s not cheap.
“You have to have somewhere to house these people.”