Walk-in clinic not a solution to Creston ER waits

Web Lead

To the Editor:

(Re: “A walk-in clinic might help reduce Creston emergency room waits”)

One of the health priorities of the Creston Valley Health Working Group has been to recruit physicians with the advanced skills required to retain our fully functional hospital with a 24/7 emergency department. Many small communities in our province lack this important community service, which we are committed to support.

In order to have a fully functional hospital and emergency department, our community requires family physicians who provide emergency department coverage, management of admitted patients, clinical office hours and care for patients in extended/long-term facilities. This means that Creston requires full service family physicians to keep our hospital operational.

Most physicians would admit that, while there are many rewards to practicing in Creston, there are also some personal and professional challenges. These challenges include the responsibilities of being an emergency physician in a geographically isolated community and providing after-hours/weekend/holiday coverage.

Fortunately, in Creston, this challenging aspect of rural medicine is shared amongst all of the physicians practicing here. The fact that all of our doctors work in our hospital creates an equity amongst our physicians — they share the load, for which we are all grateful.

Walk-in clinics may seem like an attractive option or easy solution to increase access to physician care — we know they work in larger centres. However, not all family physicians maintain the skills necessary to work in emergency departments or hospitals. Creston has the challenge of requiring family physicians who do have emergency department and hospital skills to maintain those services at our facility. A walk-in clinic in our community, utilizing practitioners who do not work in the hospital, would create a work imbalance between physicians that would not equally share hospital and emergency responsibilities. The natural consequence of that inequity is that, likely, local physicians would gradually leave full service practice for office/daytime work only. This would leave us without our much-needed emergency department and in-patient hospital coverage.

Our emergency department is, by default, our “walk-in patient” option for those citizens without a family physician, or those with an emergency. As with any emergency department, patients are seen in priority of their need. While everyone agrees that there is a hardship with an indefinite wait in the emergency department, it remains our most viable option to maintain hospital care in the Creston Valley.

The security of keeping our hospital here is maintained by recruiting full service physicians with advanced skills. The Creston Valley Health Working Group’s continued service to the community, through our physician recruiter, is improving our supply of family doctors. We are pleased to report that over the past year:

•Dr. Jeremy Kass and family arrived in January. Dr. Kass established his practice in Creston in February;

•Dr. Stacey Hoselton and family arrived in September. Dr. Hoselton is engaged in long-term locum at Family Practice Associates for Dr. Tim Troughton’s patients, through May 2016; and

•Dr. Eleanor Huettmeyer, as of September, has joined Blue Heron Medical Clinic, where she is establishing her practice. During her first year in Creston, Dr. Huettmeyer provided locum services at various clinics throughout the community.

A special thank you to all our family physicians and Creston Valley Hospital staff for providing exceptional service for our community!

Mayor Ron Toyota, Chair

Creston Valley Health Working Group