Canada wide anesthesiologist shortage behind Armstrong eye clinic's possible move - InfoNews

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Canada wide anesthesiologist shortage behind Armstrong eye clinic's possible move

The Pleasant Valley Health Centre in Armstrong, as seen in this undated image from Google Street View, is home to the Lions Vision Centre.
April 30, 2019 - 2:10 PM

ARMSTRONG - Supporters of the Armstrong eye clinic are adamant closing the facility is no way of dealing with a shortage of doctors and want Interior Health to find long term solutions to their staffing woes.

At the beginning of March, Enderby and Armstrong Lions Club members raised the alarm as Interior Health Authority looked into the possibility of relocating the Lions Vision Centre, based in the Armstrong's Pleasant Valley Health Centre, to Vernon.

Although Interior Health has not made a decision on whether to relocate the eye clinic, Lions Club members and other community groups are staying ahead of the game by putting pressure on the health authority not to close the facility.

"The community is really going to feel the problems that could arise from moving [the clinic] out of here," Armstrong Lions Club president Diann Boyd said. "[We're] very connected and devoted to it."

The Lions Vision Centre opened in 2001 and was spearheaded by the club as well as receiving support from several community stakeholders. Boyd said over the years various community groups have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the eye clinic.

A statement from North Okanagan acute health services administrator Richard Harding said Interior Health has not made a decision to close the clinic, but is looking for solutions to address the vision centre's shortage of anesthesiologists, which is a B.C. and nationwide issue.

"We are currently working with our physicians to reduce the impact to patients and to develop the best possible solution to continue to provide sustainable safe patient care," Harding said. "Our preference is to find a way to keep the service in its current location. A relocation to Vernon will only be considered if it is required to sustain service for local patients."

However, Boyd argues if the shortage of anesthesiologists is nationwide how would closing the clinic address that shortage? Boyd wants Interior Health to look to "out of the box" solutions to keep the clinic and asks why the focus can't be on training and education for staff to address the root cause.

"Surely there's a better solution than moving the whole clinic out of here," she adds. 

And while a decision remains in limbo, Boyd says the club and others will continue to support the clinic and make sure the Interior Health Authority realize how important it is to the community. Boyd estimated over 100 people took part in a rally of support outside the clinic yesterday, April 29, and the club will soon be launching a petition.

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