Throughout society, a lot of faith is put into our medical system. We rely on the doctors, nurses, surgeons and all types of health care practitioners to keep us alive and well. So it’s no wonder we value them so much.
Therefore, it’s alarming to hear that a cornerstone in health care is closing its doors. The Vernon Family Doctors Medical Clinic is being forced to shut down in March due to a doctor shortage.
It seems unfathomable that one of our walk-in clinics could close when you consider just how busy each and every clinic is on a daily basis.
Anyone who has ever been to a walk-in knows the wait times can be excruciating. But they go because it is still better than waiting up at the emergency room (which can take hours upon hours) and even better than waiting weeks to get an appointment to see a family doctor, if you’re lucky enough to have one.
And that is the thing about our doctor shortage, it’s nothing new. I would wager a bet to estimate there are hundreds of citizens who use the walk-in clinic as their primary physician source because they simply can’t get a family doctor.
And when it comes to the clinic in question, there is a particular at-risk population which frequents the walk-in. It includes those who are struggling to make ends meet, our most vulnerable citizens who lack the resources to access proper health care and those who not only lack a doctor, but a home. This closure is going to hurt them the most as many do not have the means to travel across town to one of the other two clinics.
What about the refugees who are moving into the area, or others who are coming here to escape their own crisis? They are going to have health care needs as well, which will likely have to be met through a walk-in clinic.
Like the medical director explained, this situation isn’t unique to Vernon, it’s a Canada-wide problem.
It exists in every level of health care.
Just look at someone who has been trying for months, if not years, to see a specialist or surgeon, meanwhile their existing issues continue to exasperate.
Our seniors are laying in hospital beds, waiting for space in a care home, where they can live out their final years with dignity. Unfortunately, only those who can afford it are granted this, while too many seniors are living on mediocre pensions which do not afford them anything. We need more funded care homes and staff so that we can take care of our elders when we can no longer do so at home.
It all leads to poor outcomes.
This deficiency throughout health care just ends up hurting those it is supposed to help.
There’s lower quality and quantity of care, compromised patient safety with overworked doctors and staff and unnecessary patient deaths while waiting for health care.
The closure of one of Vernon’s walk-in clinics only adds to the problem.
There is no doubt it is going to add to the already lengthy wait times at the other clinics and it’s going to put more strain on the doctors we do have left in town. It’s also going to cause more people to go directly to the emergency room with their needs, whether they are emergent or not.
It may be a private clinic that is closing, but it is a public issue which deserves attention.