West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Karin Kirkpatrick says she receives a lot of upset phone calls and letters from people who have lost their family doctors. The issue is a complex one, she said, but several factors have combined to make family practice an unattractive option for many doctors.
Doctors are putting more emphasis on community health centres where overhead costs are covered by government or non-profit societies and staffed by teams of nurses and doctors who provide primary care. They say they are also trying to change the fee-for-service model to recognize more complicated cases and offer a more holistic approach to patient care.
North Peace Division of Family Practice
The North Peace Division of Family Practice is a group of physicians who practice in Fort St. John and Hudson’s Hope, BC, who work together to address common health care challenges in their community and improve local patient care.
The Division is a non-profit society that represents family physicians on the North Shore and is committed to promoting the health of its members and patients. It is an innovation in the health care system that supports and advocates for family physicians, increases primary health care capacity, and improves patient health outcomes.
Currently, the Division is accepting new patients on the wait list for family doctors and nurse practitioners. The list is open to residents of West Vancouver, Bowen Island, and North Vancouver.
We are working with the Province of British Columbia to help residents find a family doctor in their area. The Ministry of Health launched the “Find a Physician” registry on June 20, 2019.
You can register here and we will notify you when we are receiving requests from family physicians and nurse practitioners who want to serve your community. You must be a resident of North Vancouver, West Vancouver or Bowen Island and not already attached to a family doctor in your community.
In addition to finding a family physician, you can also use this service to connect with a nurse practitioner who can help you with a variety of medical issues. You can also call or email us to see if we can connect you with a nurse practitioner in your community who is willing to meet with you.
Our staff are ready to answer any questions you may have and we will do our best to connect you with a provider who will help you meet your health care needs. Please contact our team for more information about the services we offer, to learn about upcoming events or to get started on the registration process.
Alternatively, you can also register to join the Health Connect Registry to be placed on the provincial wait list for a family doctor or nurse practitioner who practices in your area. This service is free to West Vancouver and Bowen Island residents and is operated by the Ministry of Health.
The Orca Medical Clinic
The Orca Medical Clinic has been a staple of West Vancouver health care for some time now. The facility is a top-notch, albeit crowded, medical smorgasbord with a full complement of physicians and staff on hand to take your call. Not only is the location of the facility a hive of activity, the staff and the patients are all very friendly. In the past few months the Orca has a number of new patients, including a couple of locals with a nifty little twist. The latest medical whiz kids include Dr. Stephan van Deventer and Dr. Dion Steer, both of whom have a few new or re-joined cases to show off.
The North Shore Urgent and Primary Care Centre
Are West Vancouver Doctors Accepting New Patients
The city of West Vancouver has over 20,000 residents living in the city. This number is expected to rise by over 12,000 in the next five years according to the Ministry of Health’s population projections. This population is largely composed of families with children and seniors.
As a result, many people are struggling to find a primary care physician (PCP). There is a shortage of family physicians in the province, and this has made it difficult for people to see a PCP.
With this problem in mind, the provincial government has launched a number of initiatives to help address the health care crisis. One of these is the development of urgent and primary care centres (UPCC).
These facilities are intended to provide same-day access to healthcare for people who have non-life-threatening conditions, but do not need to be treated at a hospital emergency room. They are also designed to help “attach” patients to a regular primary care provider.
UPCCs are not yet available in all areas of the province, but North Vancouver is now home to one, which opened last month at 221 West Esplanade. The centre is open seven days a week all year, with a staff that includes general practitioners, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and social workers.
The North Shore UPCC is expected to treat more than 35,000 patients per year, with a catchment area that covers all three of the municipality’s regions. It’s also aimed at relieving pressure on the North Vancouver emergency department, which has seen more than 41 per cent of visits classified as non-emergency.
In a recent interview with CBC, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) CEO Cathy MacGill called the North Shore UPCC the “perfect example” of how urgent and primary care centres can be an effective tool in addressing the need for more family doctors.
It is not uncommon for a new urgent and primary care centre to be at capacity only a few hours after opening. This is a significant concern for the province and Health Minister Adrian Dix.
North Shore Pathways
A lot of people on the North Shore don’t have a family doctor. That’s made it tough for them to get the medical attention they need — even for minor ailments like colds and infections. It’s also forced patients to run in and out of ERs and urgent care centres, hoping they can cut their wait time short enough to get the treatment they need, says Brent Hillier, a North Vancouver resident who doesn’t have a family doctor.
While the North Shore’s population is booming, doctors are finding it harder than ever to attract new patients. Several factors are contributing to the shortage, including rising costs for office space and overhead fees. But it’s also the case that more family physicians are choosing to retire.
West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Karin Kirkpatrick said her office receives a lot of emails and calls from upset constituents when a doctor announces they’re retiring. “It’s a huge problem in a city that’s very dependent on families and doctors for health care,” she said.
To deal with the shortage, the province has opened a number of urgent and primary care centres. They’re staffed with doctors and nurse practitioners who can treat non-life-threatening cases, but that still means long wait times.
When it comes to getting help with serious health problems, some North Shore residents are turning to the community mental health organizations that offer support, information and advocacy. The Mood Disorders Association of BC, for example, offers group visits and counselling services for people struggling with mental illness.
Meanwhile, Stepping Stones Concurrent Disorder Services is a team of mental health and addictions professionals that helps those who are struggling with both substance use and mental health issues. It provides a daily drop-in group, outpatient program and addiction consultation.
Another organization on the North Shore is Pathways Serious Mental Illness Society, which offers families and friends of people with mental illness support and information. It’s also a resource for emergency responders, who can refer clients to it when they need more assistance.
In addition to providing a range of services, Pathways is also a training centre that offers ongoing courses for professionals. It also hosts a conference every year for mental health professionals to learn about different approaches to treating patients.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.