The lead physician at the Summerland After Hours Clinic hopes a reduction in hours at the facility will help to attract doctors to the community.
On July 1, the clinic, at Rosedale Medical, reduced its hours and is now open Monday to Thursday, 5 to 7:30 p.m.
When the clinic opened in 2001, after the Summerland Hospital closed down, it offered service seven days a week.
The clinic has experienced irregular closures due to staffing changes.
“We’re stuck. We can’t staff it. We can’t recruit into it,” said Dr. Danielle Weisgerber, Rosedale Clinic lead.
She added that few other communities around the same size as Summerland have walk-in clinics.
She hopes the change will improve medical care for patients in Summerland and by decreasing the hours at the clinic, more patients can get same-day access to a family doctor.
“This group of physicians cares more about their community than any other group where I have worked,” Weisgerber said.
The volume of patients at the Summerland clinic has been low, and on some Saturdays, only three people would come to the facility seeking medical care.
The issue of recruiting physicians is a challenge around the province and across the country, Weisgerber said. Because physicians have been expected to assist at the clinic in Summerland, it has been more difficult to attract new physicians than in communities without a walk-in clinic, she said.
Summerland physicians have been working with the District of Summerland, South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice and Interior Health towards a larger Summerland Primary Care Centre.
Patients without a family doctor are encouraged to visit the Summerland After Hours Clinic on weeknights. If this is not possible, residents are encouraged to visit one of Penticton’s urgent care and walk-in centres.
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