PARKSVILLE – According to the Regional District of Nanaimo, one in four Oceanside residents can’t find a family doctor.
With an aging population of baby boomers moving there, the odds could be come even higher. Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre sat down with B-C Minister of Health Adrian Dix recently to discuss the local doctor’s shortage.
“One of the more important things we talked about,” he said, “was the fact that we wanted to have a better funding system from the provincial government to allow nurse practitioners to work in our area. Because realistically speaking, it’s going to take time and a great deal effort to get doctors to come to Oceanside.”
According to Lefebvre, nurse practitioners can do 70 percent of the jobs doctors do including writing prescriptions. He says that may be the way to go, but adds the provincial government has to act fast.
“Ontario has changed the rules and they’re hiring nurse practitioners like it’s going out of style,” said Lefebvre. “If we don’t do something pretty soon, nurse practitioners are going to where they can find work. They’ll be doing that if push comes to shove.”
Two new doctors arrived in Parksville in September, but they are not adding to the number of physicians in the area. They are replacing two others that have retired.
Lefebvre was joined by MLA Michelle Stilwell, Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek, RDN Chair Bill Veenhof, along with Parksville and Qualicum council members in the talks with the minister.