What new physicians in Sun Peaks mean for Kamloops's family doctor shortage | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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What new physicians in Sun Peaks mean for Kamloops's family doctor shortage

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November 22, 2017 - 9:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - After years of work from officials in Sun Peaks, a family practice is being put in place to serve the community, and it could have an effect on the family doctor shortage in Kamloops.

Two new doctors have been hired to service the Sun Peaks Health Centre in the village, where a new family practice will be up and running before the end of the year.

A culmination of 20 years of hard work is what Sun Peaks mayor Al Raine calls it, and it's likely going to serve more than the population of Sun Peaks.

"People like myself who have family doctors in Kamloops now, obviously we will switch," says Raine. "That frees up space in Kamloops, too."

Sun Peaks residents like Raine who have been relying on Kamloops practices for health care can now have an option closer to home. Raine says the first priority will be the year-round Sun Peaks population of about 750 people, but once things are running they will consider branching out.

"When you take a look at the Heffley valley and Louis Creek valley, we’re probably well over 1,200 people," Raine says. "We think one doctor can at least serve those people... living right here in Sun Peaks and immediately surrounding Sun Peaks. We expect as we develop that we will have people coming to Sun Peaks from Rayleigh and the North Kamloops side because, as everyone knows, there is a shortage of family doctors."

Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian says the last estimate of Kamloops residents without a family doctor was about 18,000, and with a new practice opening in Sun Peaks that number could potentially go down.

"I think that up until now, Sun Peaks residents have been relying on Kamloops physicians, so that will take that population and provide them with a more closer-to-home service, so that in turn should free up some space in Kamloops," says Christian.

The Sun Peaks Family Practice has a soft opening date of Dec. 11, when medical director Dr. Shane Barclay will run the facility and see patients. Dr. Harpreet Kelly will be joining the practice part time in the New Year.

It'll be the first time Sun Peaks will be serviced with family physicians seven days per week at full operating hours for residents. 

Raine says up until now, doctors from the Kamloops region have come to Sun Peaks twice per week for two hours per day during the year to service the community, and during the winter it's two hours per day, every day of the week.

"They were coming in addition to their normal duties and providing assistance here in Sun Peaks," says Raine. "As a result of that, we started to build demand and more people using the doctors up here. It was all part of our long-term goal to have our own free standing health services in the community."

Sun Peaks residents can begin booking appointments at the new practice beginning Dec. 4.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 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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