Program might bring two new doctors to Ashcroft

News from the Wellness and Health Action Coalition.

Here’s an update from the June 15 WHAC meeting. Berni Easson joined us by phone as we met in the hospital board room, and reported that Interior Health’s active recruitment for physicians continues. She said that Ashcroft remains a priority community in the recruitment process.

She informed us of the Practice Ready Assessment, which could bring new doctors working on their B.C. certification to do a type of internship in rural communities. Ashcroft has been matched to two candidates, and if all assessment and licensing requirements are met they would be available to work as early as February 2016. There was discussion as to how Clinton’s needs could be worked in with the Ashcroft placements.

Weekend ER coverage continues at this time, and work is underway to try to maintain weekend coverage over the summer months. Locum days have been increased to allow for more weekend ER coverage, but it was emphasized that locums are not a substitute for family physicians, and are only to support the regular physician by providing the weekend ER coverage.

For patients whose family physician has referred them to a specialist related to issues involving testing,  medications, etc., that specialist may be able to bridge the gap to provide continuity of care for these issues until you again have a family physician. Please check with your specialists to see what support they may offer. There is work in progress to resolve the issue of ongoing procedures without the need for a family physician, but nothing is in place yet. (This is still listed under “hopeful”.)

One of the objectives of WHAC is to build a primary health care model into our region, as a method of ensuring a reliable preventive approach to our health needs. A process that would help achieve this, and also reduce the problems that arise during a physician shortage, is a greater use of other medical professionals such as nurses, paramedics, etc. The WHAC and our partners are exploring opportunities such as the rural and remote nursing certification and Nurse First Call programs. We realize that this is a complex issue.

Concern has been expressed that clinics in Ashcroft and Clinton are losing their client base as people have to go out of town to find a family physician. We have been assured that the system is capturing information so that we can know how many clients are in a service area, regardless of where they have to go to get services (even if it’s only temporarily).

Hopefully this article will assure you that the Coalition is working diligently on your behalf, and continuing to work with Interior Health to restore and even improve health care locally. To date we have 45 members plus 31 supporters. The membership fee is $5.00, and forms are available at People’s Pharmacy if you wish to join us. Check out our website at www.whac-chb.ca for further information or to leave a comment or question, and drop in at the WHAC booth at the Ashcroft Wellness and Music Festival, Saturday, July 18. The next meeting is Mon., July 20 from 2:00‑4:00 pm in the hospital board room.

Alice Durksen

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