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Enderby faces doctor crunch

Enderby is scrambling to prevent a looming shortage of physicians.

The Enderby Health Centre recently lost one doctor who has taken up new duties in Vernon, while another is retiring in June and the third doctor at the centre is moving to Vancouver in September.

“It’s an enormous concern for our community,” said Mayor Howie Cyr.

Cyr met with the Interior Health Authority and the Community Advisory Council Wednesday to discuss recruitment of new doctors who would be under contract with IHA at the centre.

“It’s all of our problem and we have to work together on it,” he said. “We need to promote the good things the community has to offer — the environment and the quality of life.”

Dr. Alan Stewart, IHA’s senior medical director,  believes the community should be attractive to new doctors wanting to set up practise.

“It’s got some great selling points,” he said.

A sub-committee will be formed to pursue recruitment and IHA insists there are no plans to close the health centre.

“We are committed to fully staffing the clinic,” said Stewart.

But the facility may ultimately not have three physicians on staff.

“We’re probably looking at a lower number unless something changes,” said Stewart.

“An exodus of physicians gives you the opportunity to revisit how to do things.”

Some patients have followed the doctor to Vernon while many of the retiring physician’s patients live in Armstrong and will move to doctors there.

Stewart says recruitment could be completed by September, either someone physically in Enderby or preparing to relocate.

“I’m hopeful we won’t experience a gap in service.”

Besides the existing doctor who will be practising until September, IHA will utilize a nurse practitioner at the centre and temporary physicians.

Cyr is also confident new doctors can be found, but he admits many other communities are dealing with the same situation.

“It’s a competition. We have to sell ourselves,” he said.

Besides the health centre, there are two doctors at a private clinic in Enderby.

 

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