Eagle Creek Medical Clinic in View Royal announced Saturday that two of their GPs are leaving practice.
The departure will leave approximately 3,000 patients without a family doctor.
“This is pretty devastating news,” said Dr. Matthew Ward, Medical Director of Eagle Creek Medical Clinic. “The doctors just do not come here. They just can not afford the current fee-for-service model we have for practicing longitudinal family medicine.”
Dr. George Zabakolas and Dr. Chelsie Velikovsky told CHEK News on Monday that they are leaving family medicine in Victoria to explore other options.
“The system is very, very difficult and very draining for us, and it comes down to many different things, but in the end we have to do what is best for us and our family,” Velikovsky said with her husband Zabakolas via Zoom. “We should be able to live a decent life without having to fly through patience all day long and exhaust ourselves to make ends meet.”
“Honestly, it’s about the cost,” Ward said when asked why Victoria has a shortage of GPs. “It’s about how expensive it is to live and work in Victoria. It’s about overhead, which is very, very expensive to run a clinic. ”
Elham Moldovanos is one of the nearly 3,000 Eagle Creek medical clinic patients now looking for a new family physician.
“I was emotional and I’m shaking right now,” said Moldovanos, whose family of five all see Dr. Zabakolas. “I feel betrayed about the system (sic).”
The question is not new. Back in 2019, nearly a quarter of the population in Greater Victoria did not have a family doctor.
“Unfortunately, this is not new to Victoria,” Ward said. “There are more than 100,000 people who do not have a family doctor right now, and unfortunately this adds to the list.”
In addition to the loss of two family physicians, Eagle Creek Medical Clinic will also close its walk-in clinic. A quick search today medimaps.ca showed that Victoria had most of its walk-in clinics either closed or at full capacity. The shortest waiting time for an appointment was five hours.
“Primary care is in crisis right now in Greater Victoria,” Ward said. “It is unacceptable to me that there are 100,000 people without a family doctor. Everyone deserves to have a family doctor. ”
Ward says negotiations have recently begun between the provincial government and Doctors from BC to address a number of issues, including the lack of GPs affecting many cities around the province.
CHEK News contacted the Ministry of Health for comment on how the provincial government could help retain or recruit more GPs to the greater Victoria area.
“Eagle Creek Medical Clinic is a privately run clinic and decisions on surgeries are made by the clinic’s management team,” the statement said. “In 2018/19, the Ministry of Health launched a transformation team-based primary care strategy that was to fundamentally change the way primary care is provided.”
Although the Ministry of Health did not directly refer to the shortage of doctors, the statement continues: “We are making progress – despite the challenges of COVID-19 – in realizing the potential of a team-based model that provides comprehensive care for people and a better workplace for GPs and health professionals.”
Eagle Creek Medical Clinics walk-in clinic with Dr. Zabakolas and Dr. Velikovsky’s practice will be officially shut down on April 15, 2022.
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