Amid a brutal doctor shortage in the province, B.C. health minister Adrian Dix made an appearance in the Okanagan area this week, to visit with doctors at the Vernon Jubilee and Kelowna General hospitals.
“We have seen a huge increase in demand of the health care system doing more than they have done before” Dix told The Morning Star. “In Vernon, we had around 18 to 19 doctors in the (Tuesday) meeting and we had a really good exchange.”
According to Dix, hospitals are seeing six to 700 more people than what what they would usually see this time of the year.
“Our teams are doing a remarkable job of dealing with that under the circumstances but that clearly puts pressure on everybody. The intake in the emergency room is often a reflection of a lack of long term care beds so the issues in health care are not single, but linked.”
After touring the new interventional radiology suite at the KGH on Aug. 14, Dix was in Vernon to visit VJH Aug. 15.
“What I thought was important for Vernon was the focus of all the staff on the issues of mental health and addiction.”
Vernon will be losing the Primacy North Okanagan Medical Clinic on Sept. 30, leaving just the Sterling clinic on 25th Avenue available. Dix acknowledged that the lack of clinics in the city is something the government is working on.
“The one thing we need to work on is episodic care, which is what walk in clinics are,” he explained. “We have an urgent primary care centre in Vernon, that’s important and in part (a walk in clinic) one of the functions of urgent primary care centres. So, we are aware of the issue and I talked to some of the people who were in the clinic in Vernon about solutions.”
He did tout the expansion of team-based care across the province.
“In terms of changes that we brought about to the system already, a lot of it has to do with attachment,” Dix explained. “We want people to be attached as much as possible to a specific doctor or nurse practitioner. That is happening.”
Dix will be continuing his province-wide hospital visits with more in the Lower Mainland later this month.
“I am going to be back in the Interior next week as well as Vancouver Island,” said Dix. “I will try to get to as many hospitals as I can, as I think the valuer of the discussion of the health care workers in places like Vernon are so important.”