The shutdown of the program is in no way a reflection on the business community in Kamloops, reiterated both Shoults and Kamloops North-Thompson MLA Peter Milobar.
“The real core piece to this is that it shouldn’t take a fundraising effort, almost a Gofundme effort to try to have a doctor recruitment strategy for Kamloops and the surrounding areas. That really does need to be the provincial government and the health authorities putting the proper resources into not just recruitment but retention,” said Milobar.
For now, focus shifts back to addressing the problem that, while not unique to Kamloops, is more acute, with twice the provincial average struggling to secure a family doctor.
“To not have the province step up, to not have them step up to do an enhanced recruitment and retention of the physician base within Kamloops with such a glaring anomaly to the number compared to the rest of the province is a real shame, and ( the Interior Health Authority) needs to play a role in this as well,” added Milobar.
With two out of every five Kamloops residents without a doctor, patients are forced to attend Royal Inland Hospital, local clinics or use virtual options. Some newcomers, lucky enough to have doctors elsewhere, are left traveling hours for basic medical care.
“If it’s over the top or anything that’s serious, we will drive back to Abbotsford for that,” said Jason, who spoke to CFJC Today in downtown Kamloops.
Bryan, who became a Canadian resident back in 2019, has been searching for a doctor ever since, continually being reminded he is on a list.
“(We) keep hounding the government, being like, ‘Hey, I need a family doctor.’ They say, ‘You are on the list,’ but nothing ever changes and I’m still waiting,” said Bryan.
The Division of Family Practice still believes there is a role for the business community to help attract family doctors.
“We need to learn and we need to retool. And we need to engage with our board of directors who are made up of local family physicians and get their support and buy-in to a revision for this. And look for other ways that business that are interested in helping us bring family doctors to Kamloops can partner with us on it,” said Shoults.