Beginning today, local residents who don’t have a doctor in Ashcroft can see a doctor in Lillooet, and get to their appointment on the Community Bus.
“This is not an ideal situation,” says WHAC member David Durksen, “however it does give us an opportunity to get some of the 800 without a doctor access to one util February.”
The clinic currently holds 800 files of local people who used to have doctors in Ashcroft but don’t now.
Patients need to call the Ashcroft hospital to make an appointment with a physician in Lillooet. They can call the hospital at 453-2211, ext. 2. Leave a message if there is no answer.
The service is made possible by the placement of two internationally education doctors in Lillooet under the BC Ministry of Healths new Practice Ready Assessment program. If the two doctors pass the assessment, they are expected to be in Ashcroft by February.
WHAC member Ron Hood says there might be a few bugs to work through in the first few weeks of the program that is offering the temporary bussing and the Lillooet Clinic.
Patients will be picked up in Ashcroft and in Cache Creek and will be returned to both communities after everyone has been seen by a doctor.
Their goal in Lillooet, said Durkesn, “is to help us achieve the same stability here that they have with five doctors.”
He said locations like Ashcroft and Lillooet can shorten elective surgery waiting lists at larger hospitals.
“Once we get five doctors here our numbers can justify a lot more than currently exists,” he said, “but that also depends on what the doctors want.”
Specialists from Kamloops are already going out to Lillooet to see patients, he added. We can just as easily have them coming here.
“We’ll know we’ve won when people from Kamloops have to make an appointment in Ashcroft,” said Hood.
Durksen said the work won’t be stopping after Ashcroft has its two new doctors. The goal is five, he said.
The Wellness Health Action Committee (WHAC) has successfully lobbied for a Project Manager. The manager will help design a regional system to effectively deliver health care to an area that includes Lillooet, Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Logan Lake and Lytton.
“We’re not sure how it will be funded,” he said, “but it will be in a way that gives us control over it and it will include primary care.”
The bus will be in Cache Creek around 10 am and in Ashcroft around 10:45, but check with the hospital. Have your Care Card ready when making your appointment and bring $10 cash for the bus fare.
The bus will be taking patients to Lillooet every Thursday from now until Jan. 21 (except for Dec. 24 and 31). Eighteen patients can be scheduled per trip, and have up to 20 minutes with their doctor.
If the bus is full, said Durksen, they may look at more trips. He emphasized that this is not a walk in clinic – appointments are needed.