Doctors are probing the possibility of moving to Lumby.
“We’ve had meetings with three or four different doctors so there’s definitely some interest,” said Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton.
The issue of doctor retention and attraction has been top of mind in the village, rural Lumby and Cherryville, where there is currently only one physician serving about 5,518 people. An incentive package has been established, which includes Lumby covering up to a maximum of $15,000 for moving expenses with a request for a commitment of a two-year term from an incumbent doctor.
Lumby does have a meeting scheduled with Health Minister Terry Lake at the Union of B.C. Municipalities, which takes place Tuesday to Thursday (Sept. 27-29).
That’s where the Lumby Pharmacy’s Judy Phillips urges her elected representatives to fight for its residents who are suffering from the significant lack of primary health care services.
“Losing both doctors Wheeldon and Wright, has placed severe distress on the most vulnerable of our citizens, including disabled and the elderly, as well as newly discharged patients from the hospital be it Vernon, Kelowna or Vancouver hospitals,” Phillips said in a letter to council.
“This situation has also resulted in a multitude of patients not receiving primary care, or care from walk in clinics that are not designed to provide a continuum of care, as many are without a GP to follow up.”
She would like to see Lumby gain a rural retention program to help attract doctors to the region.
But being situated so close to Vernon, Lumby falls a few points shy of qualifying for the program.
“The point system has Salmon Arm designated as more rural than Lumby therefore the Salmon Arm doctors get remunerated at a much higher rate as they are declared working in a much more rural setting even though they are a city with a hospital,” Phillips told The Morning Star.
That leaves Lumby less desirable.
“A locum physician…working in this area, will not even consider Lumby as he indicates the revenues coupled with expenses do not create financial feasibility with the current remuneration system.”
Phillips is hoping the province can change that system, and would like to see Lumby couple with Nakusp, not Vernon, as all its patients come from Lumby eastward.
But Acton recognizes that Lumby isn’t the only area in this situation.
“Everybody’s struggling,” said Acton, of the lack of doctors interested in working in smaller communities.
“What we’re going to be looking for is a compromise from the ministry.”
Phillips is hopeful that Lumby won’t be left out in the cold, again.
“I stumbled upon a study that was requested by the MOH by a consulting company named Harbor Peaks. This study was completed in 2008 and item 10 specifically indicates Lumby was indeed left out in the cold regarding rural designation.”