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Walk-in closure causes concern

The Doctors
The Doctors' Satellite Medical Clinic is closing Nov. 1 due to a lack of doctors.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

The impending closure of a walk-in clinic located at Promontory and Vedder has some in the community concerned.

Rodney J. Philippson, 75, learned on Monday the Doctors' Satellite Medical Clinic would be closing Nov. 1 due to a shortage of doctors.

Philippson, a Promontory resident, said for him it would be more inconvenient to travel to the next nearest walk-in clinic located on Stevenson Road, but for people without access to a vehicle, it could be detrimental.

"By losing that clinic there, we're going to be in a situation of hardship," he said. "This is an area that covers quite a radius of people. We're losing some valuable services."

A regular at the walk-in clinic, Philippson said it's so busy, it's "standing room only" every time he goes in.

"When there's a need for something, okay, there's a shortage of doctors, let's address it, let's get down and look at the problem," Philippson said.

Ken Becotte, executive director of the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice, agreed Chilliwack, like nearly every other community in Canada, does have a shortage of family physicians. And with Chilliwack's aging demographic, that shortage is likely to continue, he said.

"Part of it is the supply and demand aspect," Becotte said. "Over the next 10 years, there will be a lot more health issues."

However, Chilliwack Division of Family Practice, a non-profit society representing Chilliwack's general practitioners, is working to fill that gap.

For two years, the division has been partnering with Fraser Health to operate a primary care clinic in the hospital that's staffed mostly by nurses. Any patient leaving the hospital, who doesn't have a family physician is referred to the clinic, and cared for there until they're able to get into a proper doctor's office.

Currently the clinic has 300-400 patients.

The division also operates a seniors' clinic two days a week for patients referred for early diagnosis of dementia in the same location staffed by GPs specializing in geriatrics.

The goal, said Becotte, is to better provide the community with the health care services it requires.

Earlier this year, the B.C. Ministry of Health and B.C. Medical Association announced a new GP for Me initiative, which aims to provide every person in B.C. with a family physician if wanted. The initiative is an investment of $100.5 million, of which $60.5 million will go to Divisions of Family Practice for research and the development of a community plan on how to improve primary care in their respective communities.

In Chilliwack, a community survey will be conducted by Chilliwack Division of Family Practice in the next week or so to determine how and where residents are accessing health care services.

For more information on the survey, visit the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice Facebook page or follow them on Twitter at @gp4me.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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