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Last private walk-in clinic on the West Shore to close as doctor shortage worsens

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One of the last remaining medical safety nets for the thousands of patients on the West Shore of Vancouver Island without a family doctor will soon disappear.

On Monday, the Colwood Medical Treatment Centre announced it would shut down its walk-in clinic on April 15.

“Despite ongoing efforts in physician recruitment, we have been unable to sustain the seven-day/week walk-in services that we were proud to offer our patients in the past,” says a post on the clinic's website.

“This is most regrettable and we are sorry to have to make this decision.”

Clinic management says the decision came as one of the facility's doctors has decided to retire in March.

The clinic is the last private walk-in clinic available on the entire West Shore, according to the walk-in clinic tracking website medimaps.ca.

The government-run West Shore Urgent & Primary Care Centre is the last remaining walk-in service in the area. Wait times often stretch beyond two hours to receive care at the facility.

'IVE SEEN PEOPLE DIE'

Dr. Perpetua Nwosu has watched closely as two West Shore walk-in clinics have announced closures in two weeks.

View Royal’s Eagle Creek Medical Clinic announced it would shut down its walk-in clinic in April after the loss of two young family doctors at the practice.

“I don’t want to be a patient in Victoria. This is as a doctor,” said Dr. Nwosu, who runs a family practice on Shelbourne Street.

“I’m upset when I talk about it because I’ve seen people die," Dr. Nwosu said. "Someone has died in my office, and I looked at it, no he shouldn’t have died because he didn’t have continued care.”

The organization Doctors of BC estimates around 100,000 people in the capital region do not have a family doctor.

Dr. Nwosu, who came to Victoria from England, says many talented foreign doctors are not interested in coming because they see the stress and lack of pay B.C. doctors currently face.

She says the entire system, from the fee-for-service model to more prioritization for primary care, needs to be overhauled.

“The structure is broken. Until you fix the structure you aren’t going to get anything. It’s going to get worse and get worse,” Dr. Nwosu said.

Change for doctors, and potentially patients, on Vancouver Island could be on the horizon as the Doctors of BC has started a new round negotiations with the province about pay.

Last updated in 2019, the Physician Master Plan (PMA) is currently being discussed between the B.C. government and doctors. 

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