Ac­cess to doc­tors to get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter

Kelowna walk-in med­i­cal clin­ics clos­ing, mov­ing; new one open­ing next March

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA PEA­COCK

Kelowna will be down one walk-in med­i­cal clinic un­til the new year as clin­ics in the city shuf­fle lo­ca­tions.

The Medi-Kel walk-in clinic, cur­rently lo­cated in­side Su­per­store, is mov­ing this week into the for­mer Lake­land Med­i­cal Clinic, lo­cated at the corner of El­lis Street and Har­vey Av­enue.

“We’re down­siz­ing,” said Medi-Kel man­ager Mike McLough­lin. “We don’t have the physi­cian com­ple­ment to staff this size of a clinic prop­erly.”

Ideally, the clinic would be open evenings and week­ends, but there are cur­rently only four part-time physi­cians work­ing Mon­day to Fri­day be­tween 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., he said.

The Su­per­store clinic sees about 50 to 60 pa­tients a day be­tween the two part-time doc­tors at work dur­ing reg­u­lar hours.

The new, smaller lo­ca­tion on El­lis Street will al­low McLough­lin to re­cruit more doc­tors be­cause of lower costs, he said.

“We are go­ing to be able to pay the doc­tors bet­ter,” he said. “This is one of the big rea­sons we’re mov­ing is that we’re get­ting a bet­ter deal on the rent at the new lo­ca­tion. We’re low­er­ing our over­head, so we can pay our doc­tors bet­ter.”

There is cur­rently a sig­nif­i­cant short­age of fam­ily doc­tors in Kelowna, one of the rea­sons be­ing they are not paid as well as in other prov­inces, said McLough­lin.

“We’ve lost a num­ber of doc­tors to Al­berta and Saskatchewan be­cause they pay the doc­tors bet­ter there,” he said.

McLough­lin has also lost sev­eral doc­tors to Kelowna Gen­eral Hospi­tal, where fam­ily doc­tors are be­ing re­cruited to work as hos­pi­tal­ists.

“The hos­pi­tal­ist doc­tor earns just as much as a reg­u­lar fam­ily doc­tor, but they don’t have to pay over­head,” he said, adding over­head costs are around 30 per cent.

When it opens on Thurs­day, the new Medi-Kel clinic will be open Mon­day to Fri­day dur­ing the day, but McLough­lin hopes to re­cruit three full-time doc­tors to add to the team and al­low for ex­panded hours.

“We’ve got doc­tors re­tir­ing and we’ve got doc­tors who are get­ting close to re­tire­ment, so we do need a sig­nif­i­cant push on more fam­ily doc­tors in Kelowna,” he said.

The clinic in­side Su­per­store will re­main empty un­til Jan­uary, when the Lakeshore Med­i­cal Cen­tre closes and moves into that lo­ca­tion.

A new walk-in clinic in the Glen­more area is also sched­uled to open in March, said McLough­lin.

“So, all in all, we will come out the same,” he said.

GARY NYLANDER/The Daily Courier

Mike McLough­lin, man­ager of the Medi-Kel Fam­ily Prac­tice and Walk In Clin­ics, sits in one of the clinic’s ex­am­i­na­tion rooms at 1715 El­lis St., where it is mov­ing from its cur­rent lo­ca­tion in­side Su­per­store.

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