Ashcroft will be back to one doctor by the beginning of May: Dr. Tarang Peedikayil has submitted his resignation, effective Apr. 30.
David Durksen, spokesperson for The Wellness and Health Action Coalition (WHAC), said his group has been negotiating with another doctor to relocate to Ashcroft. He said they’re hoping to have that concluded before Dr. Peedikayil’s resignation takes effect.
Durksen said Peedikayil’s resignation was unexpected, but one of the main reasons was burnout.
Peedikayil and his partner, Dr. Sarina Govindasamy, arrived in Ashcroft in January 2013. The town’s third doctor, Dr. Anoinette Kitshoff, announced that she was leaving less than two months later.
The two doctors have been managing their own family practices as well as keeping the Emergency Room open with the help of locums. But locums are not always available.
Durksen said there is no change in ER hours expected at this time, as long as they can continue with locum coverage.
“This looks bad,” Durksen said, “but there’s an energy with Interior Health this time, and we’re moving forward.”
WHAC has been meeting with IH this year, trying to forge a positive working relationship to answer the local challenges to healthcare.
He said they need to focus on stabilizing the clinic practice in Ashcroft, and to do that, they need to address the underlying causes of high turnover, like burnout. “We can’t keep putting bandaids on the problem.”
Doctors like this area, said Durksen, and the lifestyle it provides. But to properly run the services that IH wants here, we need five doctors.
“In 18 months to two years, I believe we’ll be at four,” he says. For now, “I’m quietly optimistic that we will maintain two doctors.”
Durksen said administration is a big problem for all doctors. At one time the Ministry of Health took care of the paperwork, but 30 years ago they downloaded it to doctors, with no compensation.
“That’s been an elephant in the room,” he said. “I’ve been asking IH how we can handle that, but we haven’t received any answers. Now we’re being pushy on it.”