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In an emailed response, Dr. Harry Neveling, who will act as medical director for the walk-in clinic that is being constructed inside the Dawson Co-op Mall, stated that the concerns raised by Dr. Paul Mackey of the Fort St. John Medical Clinic are not based in fact.

“My purpose has always been to honestly help my fellow citizens, as the local public who I have hitherto served, will vow for,” Neveling wrote. “I take pride in giving abundant medical care and concise treatment with a high standard of care. Needless to say, this will also be the policy for my new walk-in clinic, as I have always lived up to expectations.”

He stated that the project will actually include three distinct entities – his own, relocated family practice; the walk-in clinic; and a Pharmasave pharmacy. He stated the walk-in clinic will operate under his direction for 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and will offer local doctors shift opportunities, and also recruit doctors to join him on a permanent basis.

“Just like the FSJ walk-in clinics we will explicitly encourage patients to see their own GPs (general practioners) and should we encounter such a patient we will fully inform their doctors of our intervention, so that they can follow up and expedite continuity of care – just the same as what has been happening in the Emergency Room at DCDH (Dawson Creek and District Hospital) for eons,” he writes.

Neveling stated that the clinic is needed in Dawson Creek, specifically to relieve the pressure being put on the hospital’s emergency room. He also refutes Mackey’s assertion that the clinic will result in higher healthcare costs in the city. He states that the walk-in clinic will be about 10 times less costly to the Medical Services Plan for a visit as compared to the emergency room.

Neveling writes that of the 21 doctors in town, 11 are on-call for the emergency room at the hospital, and in fact, he is currently the head of the ER.

“Same as in FSJ et al, we will aim to interchange the walk-in clinic with the ER, so that critical patients will be conducted to the ER and in turn the ER could offer to direct ambulatory patients to the walk-in,” he stated. “We will still honour the after hour coverage for all of our colleagues to enjoy as before, without discrimination to the walk-in clinic like my colleague suggested. Of course I will expect from any doctors joining my partnership at the Walk-in Clinic, to be adequately trained, have hospital privileges, see in-patients at hospital and care homes, do surgical slates and obstetrics.”

He added he will continue to run his own family practice by appointment during stipulated hours, and endeavour to tutor students and residents there.

In conclusion, Neveling writes that having a walk-in clinic is not a new concept and widely supported in other communities.

“My learned colleague of higher latitude is making out as if Dawson Creek is going to pioneer the first walk-in clinic in the country, when in fact we are one of the last towns of our size that doesn’t have one yet. Why are thousands of walk-in clinics in Canada supported by much-obliged patients, doctors and medical colleges? The medical licensing bodies have long established the protocols and policies for these clinics to operate ethically and effectively with maximum continuity of care to patients. The systems are all in place and we will follow them meticulously.”  

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