British Columbia

Downtown Vancouver losing 2 walk-in medical clinics

Vancouver's busy downtown core is losing two walk-in clinics, as Stein Medical Clinics shuts down its Dunsmuir and Burrard locations.

2 Stein Medical Clinics closing, as a 3rd 'Executive Health' clinic stays open

A woman looks at the doorway of a closed Stein Medical Clinic location on Dunsmuir Street in Vancouver. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Vancouver's busy downtown core is losing two walk-in clinics, as Stein Medical Clinic shuts down its Dunsmuir and Burrard locations.

Patients attempting to drop in at the 887 Dunsmuir Street location are met with a notice on the door and windows covered over — it closed in late December. The nearby 550 Burrard location is set to close March 21.

A third Stein clinic will remain open, but the clinic in the 777 Hornby Street high rise is not a walk-in clinic covered by the Medical Services Plan. It's called an "Executive Health" facility.

As of Friday, visitors to the company's website were immediately met with a notice about the closures.

A man reads the notices posted on the door of Stein Medical Clinic regarding the closure of two walk-in locations. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Patient Sonia Grover and her friends were thwarted on Friday, as they tried to stop by the Dunsmuir clinic to pick up doctors' notes excusing them from class. 

"I don't know. I'm a little shocked, because we were not aware of this, so it's a little shocking for us," she said of the closure.

"It was very accessible for all of us, but I don't know what's wrong," said Grover, adding that she figured she'd have to give her family doctor a call, which was less convenient.

Nobody from Stein Medical Clinic was willing to comment on the closure, but Mike McLoughlin, director of the Walk-In Clinics of B.C. Association, said he had been in touch with Dr. Jeff Stein.

Stein Medical Clinic's Burrard location is scheduled to close in March. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"These two clinics are situated downtown — it's very expensive rent," said McLoughlin. "It just doesn't make good business sense for them to be operating in downtown Vancouver."

"There hasn't been an increase in the office fee that doctors can charge — there hasn't been an increase in that office fee for over 10 years," he said.

According to McLoughlin, B.C. is also experiencing a doctor shortage making it difficult to find people willing to staff the clinics.

McLoughlin pointed out that downtown clinics don't just serve local residents — crowds of daily commuters from the suburbs find it more convenient to swing by a downtown location during business hours, rather than take time off to visit a doctor closer to home. 

"It's concerning to me that the fact that there's so many people in downtown Vancouver and that's where it's most convenient for them to get health care ... it's important to have these kinds of clinics," he said.

McLoughlin said there are 310 walk-in clinics in the province, but CBC News was only able to confirm 10 downtown locations.

With files from Matt Humphrey

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker