Chase cancer survivor asks province for help in midst of doctor shortage | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Chase cancer survivor asks province for help in midst of doctor shortage

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

Some Chase residents are lobbying the provincial government for more doctors or nurse practitioners this week as concern over the doctor shortage grows.

Ellaine Spivak is spearheading the movement after learning her own family doctor is leaving the practise in Chase at the end of the year.

“Two doctors have already left in the past couple of years and the doctors we have left are burnt out and can’t take on more patients,” Spivak said.

The senior is in remission from stage 4 colon cancer. She has to go to Kamloops for blood work once per month and has a CT scan at Royal Inland Hospital in September. Losing her doctor is going to making recovery from cancer more difficult.

“I talked to my oncologist and was told I will need a doctor or nurse practitioner,” she said. “They’ll carry me as long as they can and they’re having to do that with a lot of other folks.”

Chase has roughly 2,400 residents, many of whom are seniors, who are forced to access healthcare in Salmon Arm or Kamloops, each over a half-an-hour drive away, if they are without a family doctor or need emergency care.

The driving can be a challenge for some residents, especially in the winter months, and the cost of fuel can be a heavy burden for those on a pension.

“We’re almost like a retirement community,” Spivak said. “Lots of people here need a doctor, one lady has severe health issues with her heart. An elderly lady across the street is a widow with major medical concerns and the neighbours kick in to drive her back and forth to appointments.”

Spivak doesn’t know what she's going to do when she loses her family doctor. She has prescriptions that need to be refilled.

“I’m going to have to call the 811 line or the Telus doctor, I’m not sure,” she said. “My son-in-law lives in Chase and has been on a waiting list for a doctor for three years.

READ MORE: How to improve primary care services: Salmon Arm man takes part in provincial study

Spivak and others have been sending emails to Health Minister Adrian Dix demanding more health services since she posted about the doctor shortage in Chase on social media. More specifically, they are demanding two nurse practitioners.

“I was please, surprised and saddened to get such a community response because it speaks to the fact that people are desperate,” she said. “We need to come together and be loud. If nurse practitioners are willing to a small community, we’re happy and I don’t think they cost as much as a doctor.”

She hasn’t heard back from the province yet.

As of Dec. 12, there were 54,772 Interior Health residents on wait lists for family doctors.

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