The Lake Cowichan Gazette learned early last week from a concerned senior citizen that Brookside Medical Clinic is no longer expecting the arrival of a second physician.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority was quick to respond saying that they will still be working with the current physician to attract doctors to the area.
“The Cowichan Valley Collaborative Services Committee — CSC, (made up of representatives of the local Division of Family Practice, VIHA, Community leaders and First Nation partners) has identified Lake Cowichan as a priority area for community primary health care team development. A meeting is being scheduled with the local community to create a progressive action plan,” says Valerie Wilson, VIHA communications.
However, in the same letter, Wilson acknowledged that the current physician operating out of Brookside Medical Clinic has also decided to move his practice to Duncan in the fall.
“This physician is also communicating his decision to his patients and advising them he will continue to provide care for his patients in Duncan,” says Wilson. “VIHA is very aware that this will leave the community without a physician.”
The Physician Recruitment Office will continue to work with these physicians, the town, and Choose Lake Cowichan — a group formed to develop community-led initiatives around recruiting and retaining physicians in Lake Cowichan — to attract and retain physicians for Lake Cowichan.
She points out that physicians are local business people and as such are not employees of VIHA.
“It is the decision of the physician where she/he chooses to practice.”
Both of these positions have been posted on the VIHA and Health Match BC websites since May of 2012, and Wilson says those posts will continue to remain active until the positions are filled.
Wilson added that VIHA has put forward a proposal for provincial funding to establish a Nurse Practitioner position in Lake Cowichan.
“We anticipate learning the outcome of this proposal in the near future.”
Erika Lucas of Island Pharmacy isn’t worried that the town will attract a physician.
“We have until September, and it’s a great opportunity for a physician to come to the lake. Somebody’s going to grab the position, no question.”
In the meantime, Lucas wants to remind residents that Island Pharmacy is already doing a lot to help patients in the area. Pharmacists are already administering vaccines, both those covered by government medical coverage and those that have a fee.
“The doctor’s office last year didn’t do any flu vaccinations, we did them all,” says Lucas. “Our pharmacists are all licensed to give vaccine injections. Anything offered at the Health Unit, we can also provide.”
Lucas also says that pharmacists can work with patients to adjust and administer prescriptions if they are not able to get in and see their doctor right away.
“We’re already doing this, but it will probably become more commonplace,” says Lucas.
She also wants to let the public know that Island Pharmacy is not going anywhere.
“We’ve been here for 13 years, we own the buildings, and we are invested in the community,” says Lucas. “We’re staying in town.”