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Doctor shortage forces Vernon walk-in clinic closures

Clinic in the Superstore will be closed Aug. 12-22, 2022

A lack of doctors available has left a walk-in clinic no choice but to close its doors temporarily.

The Primacy North Okanagan Medical Clinic in the Superstore will be closed for 10 days, Aug. 12-22, 2022.

“First time in 16 years,” said Lorraine Rogers, who has been the clinic manager since day one.

“We were going strong but then over the years doctors that were working here retired and were never replaced.”

Having spoken with the only other walk-in clinic in Vernon, the Sterling Centre, Rogers said they are facing the same issue.

She’s not sure if this will be the only closure, or if the clinic will have to close its doors more often.

“I can limp through, but if I even lose one physician to retirement this will just be an ongoing thing until the doors are closed forever.”

The Primacy clinic usually has two doctors on shift per day, each helping approximately 30 patients. But even more patients are turned away.

“That’s 60 a day that we’re helping and we need to be helping 160 a day and now its going to be zero,” Rogers said. “What are those people going to do?”

Speaking with the Urgent and Primary Care Clinic in town, Rogers said the staff there are also seeing more patients than they can handle. That Interior Health clinic is available by appointment only.

“Imagine if I close?” said Rogers, who doesn’t want it to happen but the “urgent need for help” needs to be addressed.

“I’ve been reaching out for a year now to the powers that be, saying ‘I’m struggling.’”

She doesn’t know what the solution is, except that something needs to change to meet the health care demand.

“I could be full each and every day, all year long, the need is there. And it’s not just here, it’s everywhere.”

It’s the first time in her 30 years in the field that she has seen the situation so dire.

“A lot of family physicians that are in Vernon can’t cope with working here as well as their full family practice.”

The Primacy clinic is open Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. before it will no longer be able to assist patients. It is already at capacity today.

The Sterling Centre Clinic is open from 12 to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Vernon Urgent and Primary Care Centre (3105 28th Ave.) is available on an appointment based system by calling 250-541-1097 for same-day appointments.

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

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