In a statement posted on the Clinic’s website, the de Bruyns said that despite considerable efforts in the past 18 months to find doctors to replace them, they have been unsuccessful.
Jonathan Dyck, Lead of Public Affairs and Media Relations with Northern Health, said that at last count there were 13 family practice doctors in Fort St. John, distributed between the Fort St. John Medical Clinic, the ABC Medical Clinic and the unattached patient clinic. In addition, he said there are 10 hospital-based doctors in Fort St. John. In years past, family practice physicians had to divide their time between their clinic hours and shifts at the hospital, in the ER and maternity ward. Now these 10 physicians are providing that coverage, leaving the family practice doctors to focus on their clinics.
Dyck added that six new physicians will be coming to Fort St. John by the fall.
However, this does not really help alleviate the shortage of family doctors in our community. According to a study into this shortage, in 2010-2011, Fort St. John needed 31 family doctors in order to provide optimum care for all residents. Even with the six new doctors arriving in the fall, this still brings the total to a mere 19 family physicians, 13 short of the 2011 goal.
Fort St. John is not the only community experiencing this problem. Throughout British Columbia, there are approximately 200,000 patients looking for a family doctor.