British Columbia

Doctor shortage in Ashcroft eased with new 100-km bus service

A new bus service will begin shuttling patients 100 kilometres Thursday, from doctor-needy Ashcroft to Lillooet where they've got physicians to spare.

Bus shuttles patients to see resident doctors at Lillooet Hospital every Thursday

A new bus service will begin shuttling patients 100 kilometres Thursday, from doctor-needy Ashcroft to Lillooet where they've got physicians to spare.

The joint initiative is pioneered by the Ashcroft Wellness and Health Action Coalition, doctors at the Lillooet Hospital and Interior Health. 

There are approximately 800 people in the community that currently do not have access to a family doctor, said David Durksen, vice-chair of the Ashcroft Wellness and Health Action Coalition.

This program connects those individuals with resident doctors who are in the final stages of their coursework under the B.C. Practice Ready Assessment program. Two of those doctors-in-training will relocate to Ashcroft in February.

"It's been a lot of work, but this is something that's never been done before, and we're quite excited to be piloting this and seeing how we can make it work," he said.

'It isn't ideal'

"There are people who are very upset and think this is a terrible idea. It isn't ideal," said Durksen. "But when you need a doctor, you need a doctor."

"We would love to not have to take patients for an hour and 15 minutes on a bus each way. But we also want to make sure that all of our patients in our catchment area have access to a doctor. 

"That's one way that we can go beyond that without burning out the doctors we currently have."

The service costs $10 and runs at 11 a.m. PT every Thursday beginning Oct. 29 through to the end of January. To book an appointment and reserve a spot on the shuttle, call the Ashcroft Hospital at 250-453-2211.

To hear the full interview with David Durksen, listen to the audio labelled: New bus service to help ease doctor shortage in Ashcroft.


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