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LETTER - B.C. healthcare crisis will not be resolved by using reactive measures

Dear editor,
The shortage of family physicians in the Comox Valley and throughout B.C. has the healthcare system on the verge of collapse. (Black Press media file photo)

Dear editor,

Our government needs to wake up; our current healthcare system in BC is in crisis.

Emergency rooms are overwhelmed, walk-in clinics are not able to handle the increasingly complex patient loads and are reaching patient quotas/caps before noon. Walk-in clinics are on the verge of collapse.

The government of B.C. has us practising “reactive” medicine when we need to focus on “proactive” medicine. The government needs to listen to healthcare workers and patients alike.

As a registered nurse working in a primary care family physician’s office, I see the benefits of a primary care family physician everyday. A family physician is an important part of our longitudinal practice; they play a key role in managing patients in community. Family practice physicians are like seatbelts. They prevent more serious injuries and crises by appropriately managing complex health issues in community. They offer routine screening like mammograms, colon cancer screening, PAP smears, etc. and help to catch things before they become serious.

They advocate for patients, send for diagnostics and refer patients to specialists. They follow patients after medication changes and recommendations from specialists. They work with patients to create action plans for chronic illnesses and help prevent these patients from ending up in hospital in crisis with an exacerbation of their chronic disease. And yet despite the great importance and value that a primary care physician offers, there are fewer and fewer physicians joining group practices.

Why would a family physician want to join or open a group practice that requires them to pay overhead (staffing, supplies, rent, etc.) when they can work in hospital for a week a month and make the same as a family physician in community? There is no incentive for family physicians to take on the burden of longitudinal care in community. They are not adequately compensated for their time and effort.

The government needs to reevaluate the current compensation model for family physicians and create incentives for physicians to join group practices. Investing in proactive care will reduce the strain on our emergency and urgent care facilities.

Kim Harding, RN BScN,