A Kaslo man fed up with the doctor shortage in his community has shared his experience and communications with Interior Health in hopes of seeing a solution.
Tyler Dobie posted a letter he wrote to the health authority and a response from on Kaslo Community Web, a Facebook page focusing on issues in the area at the north end of Kootenay Lake.
“I shared the story on our community Facebook group for a few reasons,” he told the Nelson Star, “to keep pressure on IH and our elected representatives to solve this problem which has been ongoing for far too long, to encourage other local people to do the same [write letters of complaint], and to inform people who might not know that the wait time to see a doctor is currently a month and a half.”
Kaslo’s Victorian Community Health Centre emergency department has been experiencing closures for more than six months following a lengthier doctor shortage.
Dobie is frustrated at the duration of the problem with no solution and calls the system “unacceptable and unsustainable.”
In his letter, Dobie communicated how difficult it’s been for him to book an appointment with a physician. At the time of the letter, there was a five-week wait.
A steady stream of locums serves Kaslo after resignations of two half-time doctors and another in the past six months, wrote Dobie.
“Patients therefore see a different doctor with each visit, and have to start from scratch each time with explaining their entire medical history to a doctor who is skimming their online charts while we talk, and then receive a different opinion each time,” he reported.
IH’s community integrated health services administrator for the Kootenay Boundary, Cheryl Whittleton, responded to Dobie sympathizing with his exasperation and acknowledging that many in the Kaslo area may be feeling the same frustration.
She wrote that since the community meeting held to address the issue, the authority has made “many positive changes to improve clinic operations” and that work is ongoing.
“Our priority right now is to provide consistent and robust primary care, with a stable pool of physicians,” she wrote.
“We need to focus on building that solid foundation; then we can explore opportunities to improve telehealth, public health and mental health services as we heard in our spring
community consultation sessions. We agree that locum coverage is not the best option in terms of consistent patient care, and we continue our efforts to recruit permanent physicians to Kaslo.”
Patient care quality advisor Jo-Ann Tisserand also responded to Dobie’s letter. She apologized and said complaints are taken seriously.
She also suggested if he wasn’t satisfied he could contact the patient care quality review board, made up of people who live in the region that are independent of the health authority. To learn more, visit the website at patientcarequalityreviewboard.ca.
Dobie told the Star he is “very disappointed” with the health authority’s response to his concerns.
“It doesn’t really say anything,” he said. “They are not addressing the core issue and reason for the struggles to find a doctor.”
Dobie suggests bureaucracy is at the root of the dysfunctional system.