The walk-in clinic will be closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day as usual, as well as January 2 for the first time because no physician is available. It will also be the first time the clinic has been closed two days in a row in its 13 years.
The clinic will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Boxing Day, and from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 27, 28, 29, and 30.
It will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from January 3 to 6, and then resume normal hours on January 7, which are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.
The clinic, which until recently operated seven days a week including all but three holidays per year, lost one of its partners, Dr. Robert Taylor, who accepted a position with WorkSafeBC.
Although a foreign trained doctor apprenticing for her Canadian license was prepared to join them, Interior Health vetoed the move, saying such physicians must work in supervised settings, such as full-service family practices with hospital privileges.
However, according to a letter from the health authority’s senior medical director, the Kootenay Lake clinic doesn’t meet that criteria because they don’t admit patients to hospital, and only one staff member has hospital privileges, which are seldom used.
Dr. John Dale, who runs the clinic, has since contacted the BC Medical Association and a member of the Interior Health board “to question the policy of suggesting that a [foreign doctor] is better served during mentorship by being forced to go to an isolated community and do 24 to 48 hours of solo call with little or no backup when they could be doing a learning training period in our clinic.”
Dale has been unable to find another permanent replacement.
In the meantime, he says they are getting “quite a bit of help” from local doctors, “which is great, but we have no regular for Sundays.”
Dale also argues that by providing weekend service, his clinic was easing the burden on the emergency room. By his reckoning, about one-third of the 75 patients typically seen on Saturdays and Sundays would otherwise end up in emergency. He estimates that over the years, his clinic has saved the health care system millions of dollars.