The District of Chetwynd has some leads on a handful of doctors for the community.

“The situation is improving quite a bit, in the last month we’ve got some pretty good leads for doctors who want to be in Chetwynd,” says Mayor Allen Courtoreille.

“It looks like we might have four doctors, plus Banas, who’s out at the lake.”

Dr. Banas came to the community in 2015, but now works at the Saulteau First Nation’s Health Centre, continuing to see Chetwynd patients as their family physician.

The biggest hurdle is finding housing for the doctors, says Courtoreille, noting Chetwynd is currently experiencing a housing shortage, with a 90 per cent occupancy rate.  A committee has been formed by the district to help house the doctors.

“We’re fortunate that there’s interest in being here, but unfortunate in that medical professionals can’t find a decent house for their needs,” says Courtoreille.

Should four doctors arrive, one will be expected to make the drive to Tumbler Ridge, providing coverage for Chetwynd’s neighbouring community, adds Courtoreille.

South Peace MLA Mike Bernier says four more doctors is great news, noting several informal meetings in Chetwynd to discuss the shortage with residents and council.

“We need to all be sitting down and working together to solve this. Chetwynd definitely is struggling,” says Bernier.  The community continues to lack nurses, with six current vacancies.

Northern Health could not be reached for new comment, noting in November Chetwynd continues to have one full-time local physician (Banas), and locum coverage for their emergency department.

tsummer@ahnfsj.ca