Northern Health working to open unattached patient clinic by June

The clinic would provide care for patients in the community that don’t have a family doctor. The clinic would allow doctors to help see unattached patients without having to have a family practice.

Dr. Chapman says discussions are underway on how they will staff the clinic. “It certainly have different people from different clinics coming to help out there. It’s also an opportunity for physicians who want to do a little bit of general practice to go there and work as well.”

Northern Health opened a similar clinic in Prince George in 2008, when that community was in a similar situation on. According to Chapman, the clinic has helped to dramatically reduce the number of unattached patients in that community.

“Our experience with Prince George is that the numbers were low, we had a high unattached population, and now we are actually in a good position as far as physicians and our unattached population is much much lower.”

Northern Health will still have to focus on recruitment. Canada can no longer recruit doctors from South Africa, but Dr. Chapman says there are still other options. “Canada is our number one resource pool. The other places we can directly recruit from is the United States, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. So those are the countries that we do have access to those physicians. If they do want to come, they can certainly work in Canada.”

Five doctors announced they would be closing their family practices this July, leaving over 6,000 people without a physician. That is on top of over 18,000 people that already don’t have a family doctor.