Interior Health (IH) has issued a community update about health care services in Ashcroft, noting the departure at the end of November of one of the community’s three physicians, Dr. Sarina Govindasamy.
Two full-time physicians—Dr. Amgad Zake and Dr. Debra Obu—remain at the Ashcroft Family Medical Clinic. Both are accepting Dr. Govindasamy’s existing patients, while Dr. Zake is also taking on new patients. Any existing patients who would like to switch to either doctor, or new patients who would like to sign up with Dr. Zake, can either visit the clinic, or phone (250) 453-9353 (new patients must have their Care Card number ready).
Both doctors will continue to deliver primary care and part-time Emergency Department (ED) coverage. At this time there is no change to the hours at the ED, which is open from Friday at 6 p.m. to Monday at 8 a.m. Doctors Zake and Obu are working together to cover ED services through the holiday period, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
The update also states that IH is actively working with the Village of Ashcroft and the Wellness and Health Action Coalition (WHAC) to recruit and attract prospective physicians to the community. Interior Health is working to create new and updated marketing material that will showcase Ashcroft.
“Recruitment is ongoing,” says WHAC vice chair David Durksen. “We’re optimistic about the future, but it’s a longer-term thing, not immediate.” He notes that the ED has been the source of burnout for many of our doctors. “We understand the challenge of not having it open more hours than we currently have, but we want to stop the revolving door of doctors in our community.
“Until we have designed a new system, or recruited additional supports, such as nurse practitioners or semi-retired doctors or doctors who want to work part-time, we have to try to make sure that the doctors we have, have a life, have a balance in life, and want to stay.”
He adds that if we are not going to have extended emergency services, we need to have far greater support from the ambulance service. However, Durksen believes that over the next 12 months Ashcroft will see “significant improvements” due to work going on behind the scenes, and the transition from an illness-care system to a patient-centric health care system.
“That’s what we’re in the midst of right now. We can’t burn out the health and well-being of our doctors, when we want them to look after our health and well-being.”