Do you have a regular family doctor?

Poll: Doctor shortage in B.C.

A View Royal family-medicine clinic is losing two physicians in the spring, forcing the displacement of 3,000 primary-care patients and temporary closing of a walk-in clinic catering to about 1,500 patients.

View Royal Mayor David Screech said “it’s a blow to the community.” Council is considering a motion to the Union of B.C. Municipalities asking the province to acknowledge that the doctor shortage is a crisis and solutions are badly needed, he said.

Once the physicians leave April 15, Eagle Creek Medical Clinic at 120-27 Helmcken Rd. will close its walk-in clinic.

The primary-care clinic will be left with five family physicians and two nurse practitioners — each with about 1,500 patients — and 12 medical-office assistants, as well as a separate high-complexity practice catering to 600 vulnerable patients, including people with mental health and addiction challenges.

Clinic medical director Matthew Ward said the clinic owners are devastated by the departures, which will affect any expansion plans and mean that for now, it’s neither sustainable nor safe to operate the high-demand walk-in service.

“I can’t tell you how much sleep I’ve lost over this, but I just have to close the walk-in — I just can’t run it safely,” said Ward.

“The walk-in clinic closing is obviously devastating to our community and for that I am so sorry.”

The doctors’ departure will have a personal impact for Ward, whose wife and two young children are patients of the departing physicians.

Husband and wife doctors George Zabakolas and Chelsie Velikovsky, each with a caseload of 1,500 patients, said the ­decision to leave was difficult. “We did explore any [and] all possible options to find a replacement provider for affected patients,” the doctors told patients in a letter on Jan. 10.

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