Clearwater should be getting two new doctors with two new families next September, according to Clearwater councillor Shelly Sim.
Speaking during a council meeting held the afternoon of Feb. 28, Sim said one of the new doctors is male and the other female.
The partner of one of them is also a medical doctor but will not be practicing here.
“It’s unrealistic today to expect the sort of long-term service we previously had,” Sim said, pointing out that teachers, school principals and other professionals often stay for only a few years before moving on.
“Communities all over North America have had to get used to it,” she said.
The two new doctors coming is significant because two of Clearwater’s permanent physicians, Dr. Alice Gwynn and Dr. Mark Walton, recently announced that they plan to leave as of May 22.
This follows the departure late last year of Dr. Steven Broadbent.
Gwynn and Walton share a practice between them.
“The couple is moving for the sake of their children. That’s what they told me,” said Mayor John Harwood.
“Retention is definitely a challenge,” the mayor said. “It’s difficult in a small town. To be on call seven days a week, 24 hours a day can be tough.”
He gave as an example a recent episode when there were two major emergencies at the hospital with only one doctor available and no ambulance in town.
Once Dr. Gwynn and Dr. Walton leave, Clearwater will once again be back to one full-time, permanent physician – Dr. John Soles.
Interior Health has given this community high priority for locums or temporary doctors, Harwood said. He conceded, however, that it could be difficult to get enough locums during the summer.