Victoria seniors caught in middle of clinic standoff

Deadline fast approaching for expiration of agreement with doctors

The Vancouver Island Health Authority still holds out hope that it can resolve an ongoing dispute between the authority and outgoing doctors at its senior-focused Health Point Care Centre in Victoria.

The four doctors who run the comprehensive medical clinic, located at 1454 Hillside Ave., told their patients of a breakdown in contract negotiations with VIHA in February. The doctors’ contract expires May 31 and VIHA is now scrambling to fill the positions.

“We remain open and willing to have further discussion with the current physicians to make it work going forward,” said Sarah Plank, VIHA spokesperson.

VIHA established Health Point Care Centre in 2004 for senior patients with complicated medical conditions who did not have a family doctor.

The clinic employs three medical office administrators, two registered nurses and a nurse practitioner; all positions are subsidized by VIHA.

More than 1,800 patients are on the books at the clinic including Judith Hodgson, who has been lobbying MLAs to get involved in the dispute.

“There are really three generations of seniors who use Health Point,” she said. “I know for a fact that a few patients who have gone there – who are already ill – are much sicker because of the stress of losing their physician.”

Hodgson is also concerned that once new part-time doctors are found, they won’t take on all of the existing patients.

Two general practitioners have been hired on a temporary basis until permanent replacements can be found, and VIHA is continuing to recruit locums as the deadline looms, Plank said.

“Health Point is definitely a priority for us and it’s a model we want to continue,” she said. “It will remain open.”

The outgoing doctors could not be reached for comment.

For more information, visit savehealthpointhillside.ca.

dpalmer@vicnews.com