Doctors want influence

Local physicians say they want to influence health-care delivery and policy in our region, but they are not willing at this time to comment on the health authority's plans for the Oceanside Health Centre.

The NEWS has asked repeatedly for comment from the Division of Family Practice — an organization comprised of local family doctors — for comment on various issues related to the new health centre, scheduled to open in June.

On Feb. 4, the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) issued a call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) "looking for physician partners to join the multidisciplinary team of health-care providers who will support better health and well-being for Oceanside residents." The deadline for doctors to respond to the EOI is Friday (Feb. 15). Division of Family Practice co-ordinator Geri Sera said local doctors didn't receive the EOI from VIHA until Feb. 5.

"After a quick review of the document that afternoon, the Division board met in the evening and realized their membership might want to discuss the EOI as a group," Sera wrote in an e-mail to The NEWS. "We distributed copies of the EOI document to our members the morning of Feb. 6. We are currently using a 'Doodle Poll' to determine a convenient date to meet with our members to provide an opportunity for them to respond to the EOI document. After we meet (date not yet confirmed), we may have more to share about the EOI, but at this time, we're simply (as a non-profit) organization, seeking consensus from our membership about the document."

In the same e-mail Sera said, in relation to the new health centre, physicians in Parksville Qualicum Beach "aim to improve patient care, increase the opportunity for family physicians to: influence health care delivery and policy, and provide professional satisfaction for physicians."

Sera also said the doctors are still suggesting any official comments about the new health centre come from VIHA.

"The Oceanside Health Centre (OCH) is a VIHA funded and operated facility," Sera wrote. "It would be best to contact VIHA for comments or information related to the new centre."

VIHA's EOI is seeking physicians who want to locate their practice in the new health centre. There are currently only two  family doctors accepting new patients in the entire Parksville Qualicum Beach region, and introductory interviews with potential patients for these doctors are now being scheduled for late March at the earliest.

It's unclear if any local physicians are interested in moving their family practices to the new health centre.

The EOI also seeks physicians interested in providing coverage for the OCH's urgent care service, which will be open seven days a week, 15 hours a day to provide health care services — without an appointment being needed — to individuals with urgent, but non-emergency medical needs, said VIHA's news release.

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