I was pleased to read that the Creston Valley will be welcoming a new family physician. I’ve been pretty frustrated by the situation here and would humbly like to offer a couple of suggestions for how the town, RDCK, and the Creston Valley Health Working Group might be able to improve, at least from my perspective.
1) Understanding the problem
Do the parties involved truly understand the reasons for the difficulty of attracting and retaining physicians? From my perspective reading the back articles/town press releases on this topic and speaking with acquaintances, it seems not. An identified but poorly understood problem is unlikely to be fixed any time soon.
2) Living with the problem
Those of us without family doctors will continue to be told to go to the emergency department. Do we know how many of us there are? From my perspective it seems pretty bleak. What could be done is to improve fairness and opportunity for connecting patients with doctors when openings do occur?
3) Better notification of new patient openings
My understanding is that new patient openings are normally filled through advertising in the Advance. This relies upon reading the Advance on a weekly basis. Word-of-mouth also works, but not so much with brand new residents. The town maintains an email list, why not ensure that such openings are also placed on this mailing list? Alternatively, why don’t the various parties get together and create and maintain a mailing list specifically for notification of new patient openings? The situation here in the valley is unique in that simple one-off advertising of new openings through a single source is neither sufficient nor fair.
Editor’s note: For updates from the Town of Creston and the Creston Valley Health Working Group, please visit www.creston.ca/2359/Creston-Valley-Health-Working-Group. The most recent information is also posted there.
4) Maintain a list of families/individuals seeking a physician ordered by enrollment date
This is more work due to privacy issues and would likely require a governmental agency to oversee (eg. RDCK), but would be much fairer to those waiting the longest. I wouldn’t propose that a physician or clinic be required to use the list to obtain new patients, but my expectation is that they would do so. I also would leave it to the judgment of the physician/clinic on acceptance of patients from the list just as they would for new walk-ins. In this case, members of a family should be treated as a single unit both for the waiting list and for the clinic.
I can appreciate that the lack of physicians in the area is a difficult problem to solve. I can also appreciate that money is being spent and effort is being made by various parties to rectify the problem. That said, the status quo is unacceptable… so let’s try to make it easier and fairer for those of us most impacted.
Oh, Dr. Turanich should you read this, welcome to the valley… can I be your patient?
Dan Field, Creston