Doctor incentives leave Enderby on the sidelines

Provincial officials stand accused of ignoring Enderby’s physician shortage.

Provincial officials stand accused of ignoring Enderby’s physician shortage.

The Ministry of Health and the B.C. Medical Association will provide $100,000 each to 20 physicians who agree to move to 17 designated rural communities in the province. Enderby is not on the list.

“You have to be kidding me,” said Mayor Howie Cyr when informed of the initiative.

“To ignore Enderby after making them aware of the situation here is very disheartening.”

There is currently just one permanent doctor in the Enderby area, which has about 7,200 people.

Of the 17 general practitioners and specialists in the incentive program, five are designated for Interior Health Authority communities.

They are Clearwater, Cranbrook, Nakusp and Princeton.

Cyr says he is aware of the lack of doctors in those communities and his concerns aren’t directed towards them. But he questions why Enderby was not selected.

“They (ministry and BCMA) will have to be accountable for their actions,” he said.

Enderby residents are currently faced with travelling to Vernon or Salmon Arm to see a doctor and there is a concern that will lead to people either  leaving Enderby or not moving there.

“We’re not going to give up. We have a responsibility to our constituents,” said Cyr of the city’s lobbying.

IHA has stated there will be at least one new physician in Enderby this summer.

The rural physicians incentive will provide each physician with a one-time payment of $100,000 when they commit to three years of service in the 17 towns.

Participating physicians will receive $50,000 when they begin working  in the community. The remaining $50,000 will be paid once they have  completed one year of service.

“Helping to fill much-needed rural family physician and specialist  positions not only benefits local families, but also provides  additional support for physicians and other health-care professionals  in the community,” said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.