Minister of Health wants to keep North Shore walk-in clinic open, but may be too late - InfoNews

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Minister of Health wants to keep North Shore walk-in clinic open, but may be too late

FILE PHOTO - British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
March 07, 2017 - 9:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - B.C.'s health minister wants to keep the North Kamloops only walk-in clinic open, but he may be too late.

North Kamloops MLA and Minister of Health Terry Lake has reached out to Dr. Susan Vlahos, the medical director of the Norkam Health Centre walk-in clinic in an effort to keep it open. But Patti Aldrich, the clinic’s manager, says a change now is unlikely.

“We’re phasing out of walk-ins,” she says. “And looking to turn into a family practice.”

She says changes are happening soon, though these decisions are ultimately made by Dr. Vlahos. Lake commended Vlahos for her efforts and says he’s willing to look at options to keep the clinic open, from addressing challenges to adding resources.

“Is it a blended funding model that ensures she’s being costed adequately for dealing with the more complex patients?” he says.

One of the issues Aldrich said caused the decision to close the walk-in clinic was the increase in complex, long-term cases coming in because patients didn’t have their own doctor and turned to the clinic as a stop gap measure.

Lake says while the best option for the public is to have a primary care doctor or team that primary care clinics offer are ideal, walk-in clinics are essential for intermittent care. Aldrich says the clinic has been dealing with some patients as a primary care provider, instead intermittently as were the original intentions.

Lake only found out about the closure this weekend.

“We knew they were very busy,” he says. “We didn’t know they were going to phase out the walk-in clinic until Sunday night.”

While the walk-in is closing, Aldrich says the health centre’s family practice will be expanding to take on more patients as a primary care provider and hopes plans will be solidified shortly. Lake says five international doctors are lined up to come to Kamloops over the next six months, with two arriving in May and three in August, to help relieve the strain on the city’s health care system. This has not been confirmed.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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