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Penticton  

Upset over doctor shortage

It’s an ongoing issue for many small communities in British Columbia, but residents in Osoyoos are voicing frustration about a lack of doctors in town.

Of the eight general practitioners in Osoyoos listed by the B.C. College of Physicians, none are taking new patients.

“At least a year,” said Brenda Dorosz, referring to wait lists for a family doctor in Osoyoos. “It’s just really bad.”

Dorosz has launched a petition calling for more medical services in Osoyoos, and says she will be meeting with other concerned residents in the coming weeks to formulate a plan to help attract a new doctor to town. She also believes the community can support a walk-in clinic.

“We want to draw attention to the issue, but then we also want to not just stand here and scream… just wanting to be proactive moving forward and make sure the town council knows we are serious about this.”

But Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff is already well aware of the issue, and says attracting a doctor to town is a complicated task.

"There are things that are being done, but to be fair, a doctor’s practice is a personal business so it's not like you can say, 'you have to come here and set up.'"

McKortoff says Osoyoos is a part of the “rural practice initiative,” which also includes Princeton, Keremeos and Oliver – a group that works to improve health care and bring doctors to the South Okanagan.

“We are not ignoring the issue, but it’s not something, I see that somebody in town is trying to get a petition going to bring more doctors here, well it’s kind of more complicated than just doing that – but we understand people are concerned.”

McKortoff said there are currently “some doctors” that are interested in coming to Osoyoos, which she remains hopeful of.

When contacted for comment, Interior Health stated “the health authority is typically not involved,” in recruiting private practitioners.

“However, recognizing the challenges in some of our communities, and how it can impact the health and well-being of a community at large, we are at the table talking with other partners – such as the Divisions of Family Practice and UBC,” said Dr. Curtis Bell, Executive Medical Director, Primary and Community Care.

Bell added that Interior Health posts open vacancies on its recruitment website.

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