The Community First Medical Clinic in Nelson will permanently close its door on June 1.

The Community First Medical Clinic in Nelson will permanently close its door on June 1.

Doctor shortage in Nelson a ‘looming crisis’ for family care

The Community First Medical Clinic will close its doors effective June 1 as two of the three doctors leave family practice.

The Community First Medical Clinic will close its doors effective June 1 as two of the three doctors leave family practice. In all, at least six family doctors have recently left or will leave their practices in Nelson.

“Potentially thousands of patients will be orphaned with no family physician to care for them and their families,” says Sharon Campese, office manager at Community First. “The walk-in clinic is unable to handle the number of people requiring care daily and the emergency room will become a holding pen for patients with less than serious needs. There appears to be a crisis looming.”

Dr. Yasmin Garcia will serve patients at the Ancron Medical Clinic until August 15 when she will move to Vancouver. Dr. Joel Kailia is withdrawing from family practice to focus on a specialized area of medicine. Dr. Andrew Murray has been unable to recruit physicians to take over for his colleagues.

“There are various urgent recruitment initiatives currently taking place in Nelson and the Kootenays to attract more family physicians to our area,” says a press release issued by the Community First clinic.

As Community First closes, Murray will continue to see his patients at the Ancron Medical Clinic.

Other doctors leaving the community include Dr. Annemarie DeKoker who recently left her practice in the Nelson Trading Company to move to Kaslo. After taking over departing colleague Dr. Rob Edmonds’ patients late last year, Dr. Katherine McIntyre will leave her practice on Vernon Street at month’s end. Slocan Park’s Dr. Elizabeth Barbour is also retiring.

Clinics report being inundated with calls from patients looking for a doctor as recruitment efforts continue with limited success.

Doctors new to Nelson quickly fill their practices. Dr. David Sonnichsen opened a family practice accepting new patients about a year ago.

There is no longer room at the Kootenay Medical Centre with spots filling up within eight to nine months, reports the clinic.