Fort St. John doctor says new walk-in clinic not the solution to Dawson Creek’s healthcare needs

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“The solution is not to create a walk-in clinic that will only provide limited office services for minor and uncomplicated problems while not providing all the other services essential to comprehensive rural medical care,” states Dr. Paul Mackey of the Fort St. John Medical Clinic, in a letter received by Dawson Creek city council last week.

He suggests that a walk-in clinic is not able to provide the full range of services of a family practice, including obstetrical services (the care of women during and after pregnancy), attending to hospital patients and covering the emergency department.

“There is a large body of evidence that access to the longitudinal, comprehensive care provided by a family physician improves health-related outcomes not only for the individual patient but also for the community,” writes Mackey. “There are also good data showing that access to a walk-in clinic, while convenient, does nothing to improve these outcomes and, in fact, serves to worsen these outcomes while adding another layer of care that merely increases the expense of health care delivery while increasing unnecessary prescriptions, investigations, and referrals.”

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He states the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC requires clinics to be responsible for after-hours patient care and to not rely on the emergency department for that care without entering prior arrangement. He writes that if the clinic is being staffed by out-of-town doctors without those hospital privileges, it may deter resident doctors in the community from taking on that extra burden.

Mackay, who is also the co-site director for the University of British Columbia’s Peace-Laird Family Practice Residency Program, argues that “fly-in-fly-out” doctors will contribute little to the community as a whole, unlike those who live in the community.

He added that he doesn’t believe the walk-in clinic can offer the same kind of environment to educate family practice residents or medical students that a full-service family practice could.

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Plans for the new walk-in clinic and attached pharmacy, which will be located inside the Co-op Mall where the Styles department used to be located, were announced last month. Efforts to reach Dr. Harry Neveling, a general practitioner and family physician in Dawson Creek who will act as medical director for the clinic, were unsuccessful this afternoon, but attempts will be made to contact him in the coming days for his reaction.  

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