The Esquimalt Treatment Centre at 918 Esquimalt Rd. closed at the end of 2018, leaving Esquimalt with just one walk-in clinic (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff) The Esquimalt Treatment Centre at 918 Esquimalt Rd. closed at the end of 2018, leaving Esquimalt with just one walk-in clinic (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Esquimalt needs urgent health care facility, mayor says

A severe doctor shortage is leaving Esquimalt residents scrambling for health care

Esquimalt should be the next municipality considered for an urgent primary care facility, says Mayor Barb Desjardins.

After the December closure of the Esquimalt Treatment Centre, the Township has only one walk-in clinic to serve more than 17,000 people.

“Many people are scrambling to find other doctors, but there aren’t any available. All the clinics are full,” Desjardins said. “There’s a very large population of people who are not ‘attached’ to a family doctor, and many are using the hospital emergency for their health care, so that’s extra pressure there.”

ALSO READ: Clinic closure leaves Sidney with one walk-in option

The only walk-in clinic in the area is the Esquimalt Medical Clinic, which shows its wait time at maximum capacity by 10 a.m.

The online tool Medimap, which shows walk-in clinic wait times, shows Esquimalt’s only walk-in clinic at full capacity (Medimap)

The nearest alternatives would either be in James Bay or Langford, after clinics in Vic West and View Royal closed down in recent years.

“Over time we’ve seen this loss,” Desjardins said, “The challenge now is to find short-term and long-term solutions.”

READ MORE: The Ministry of Health commits to focus more on community-driven health networks

Desjardins spoke with MLA Mitzi Dean on Friday morning asking to arrange a meeting with Health Minister Adrian Dix about looking at options.

Desjardins said what Esquimalt needs is incentive for general practitioners and nurse practitioners to come to the area, and longer operating hours.

“There is no health care available between 4 p.m. and 8:30 a.m.,” Desjardins aid. “That’s more time without doctors than with doctors.”

For long-term planning, Desjardins believes the community should be considered for one of the province’s new urgent primary care facilities.

READ MORE: ‘Nanaimo is next’ for urgent primary care centre

In May 2018 the province announced that 200 physicians and nurse practitioners would be hired to work within 15 new, multi-faceted primary care centers, several community health centres and 10 urgent primary care centres, one of which recently opened in West Shore.

The urgent primary care centres would provide services to patients without family doctors and have extended evening and weekend hours.

While nothing is set yet, Desjardins is hopeful that the province will understand the urgency.

“The pressure on the rest of the system is tremendous,” she said. “We need help.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

The online tool Medimap, which shows walk-in clinic wait times, shows Esquimalt’s only walk-in clinic at full capacity (Medimap)

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