British Columbia

UBC tries to fill gaps as Peachland, B.C. faces loss of all local doctors

The University of British Columbia says it's working to retain doctors in the Southern Interior as Peachland's only physicians plan to pull out of the community this spring.

The Okanagan community's only medical clinic is closing at end of March

Training opportunities for new doctors in B.C.'s Southern Interior hope to attract and keep physicians in the region. (Shutterstock/funnyangel)

Residents of Peachland are losing all their local doctors, and the University of British Columbia is racing against the clock to keep other communities in the Southern Interior from facing the same situation.

The only medical clinic in Peachland, a municipality of about 5,000 people on the west side of Lake Okanagan, is closing this spring when the clinic director retires. All four physicians currently employed at Beach Avenue Medical are moving elsewhere, leaving residents without a single doctor.

Dr. Allan Jones, regional associate dean for the UBC faculty of medicine, southern medical program, told  Daybreak South host Chris Walker that the program is working to provide residency training in South Okanagan hospitals to attract and retain new doctors. 

Jones said evidence proves if you provide training in communities outside of large tertiary care medical centres that students and residents tend to return to smaller communities. 

"The data would show that where people do their post-graduate training are more likely to stay within a 100 mile radius of where that training occurs," said Jones.

Local training available

Training programs are currently available in Kamloops, Penticton, Trail and the Kelowna General Hospital.

But Jones said those programs started in 2011 and it takes a medical student four years to complete undergraduate training and sometimes up to five years afterwards to complete their residency, meaning many of those doctors are not yet practicing. 

"The opportunities are here for sure and the quality of medicine is extremely high in the interior..and I am hopeful that's going to pay long-term dividends," said Jones.

However, in the short term, Peachland patients will soon have to scour other interior communities for a doctor when the need arises.

Beach Avenue Medical is scheduled to close on March 31, 2019.

To hear the complete interview with Dr. Jones, click on the link below:

With files from Daybreak South


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