Ashcroft and area will be welcoming two new doctors, Dr. Amgad Zake and Dr. Debra Obu, to town. The two successfully completed their practice-ready assessment by the province earlier this month.
Effective March 1, Dr. Obu and Dr. Zake will be joining Dr. Sarina Govindasamy and Dr. Tarang Peedikayil at the Ashcroft Health Centre. Any resident wishing to book an appointment may call the clinic at 250-453-9353.
Dr. Pedikayil will be leaving the clinic on Apr. 15.
Ashcroft’s Wellness Health Action Coalition (WHAC) member David Durksen says the work to improve local health care is ongoing.
“The outreach clinic (in Lillooet) was an incredible bnefit to the patients who accessed it,” he says. “It allowed the new doctors to complete the practice ready assessment and to become oriented to the clinic and to the community.”
The community bus took patients to the Lillooet clinic once a week from Ashcroft and Cache Creek for eight weeks before Christmas and three weeks in January. That service ceased once the doctors completed their program.
Some weeks the bus had very low ridership, says Durksen, while other weeks ridership was very high. It averaged out to around 10 patients going to Lillooet every week. Some patients preferred to drive themselves to Lillooet.
“It also provided a model for other communities who find themselves without a doctor,” he says. “It was never intended as a permanent fix.”
The two project co-ordinators hired at the urging of the Coalition to work on models of local health care delivery are putting togetherreports about the medical services available in the local catchment area and identifying the gaps in those services; and working on models of how the clinics and doctors will support long term care in the area, including locum support.
Durksen says that instead of local doctors recruiting their own locums, the Coalition would like to see a pool of locums that any clinic in the catchment area could tap into.
He says that WHAC members will be travelling to Princeton in February to help their local health care group with a second assessment program. It was a visit from the Princeton group almost two years ago, facilitated by MLA Jackie Tegart, that sparked the formation of WHAC.
Interior Health issued a statement to announce the doctors’ arrival and to state that they, “in collaboration with the Village of Ashcroft and WHAC, will be supporting the new physician group to be settled into the community and engage in discussions to determine what the model of health care will be to ensure a sustainable and consinsistent service to the community.”
At this time, the Ashcroft Hospital and Health Centre Emergency Department will remain open weekends, which is Friday at 6 pm to Monday at 8 am. The community will be notified if any changes are made to those operating hours.