Burns Lake will soon have two new physicians working out of the primary care clinic inside the Lakes District Hospital and Health Centre.
Before the new doctors, Burns Lake’s $55-million hospital had a primary care clinic up and running with no physicians. The new addition brings the total number of doctors in town to seven.
One of the doctors, Dr. Tammy Williams, comes from Vancouver Island and has started her practice in Burns Lake on April 18, 2017.
A second physician is expected to start practice as early as May 1, 2017, pending completion of the hiring process.
“Until that’s finalized, we can only share that this physician, who has experience practicing in the north, is expected to move to the community to also work out of the primary care clinic in the hospital,” said Andrea Palmer, a spokesperson for Northern Health.
Burns Lake Mayor Chris Beach said the new recruits were in part thanks to the efforts of the Burns Lake Sustainability Project, a group that has been working towards recruiting health-care professionals to the community.
“They worked really hard to make that happen,” said Beach.
The Burns Lake Sustainability Project has also proposed the creation of an “ambassador committee,” which would help the new recruits feel right at home.
“This ambassador committee would introduce the new recruits to the community and would try to meet their needs and the needs of the family,” explained Marie Hunter, Northern Health Lakes District health service administrator. “Part of what this committee will be doing is discussing how to introduce them, finding out what their likes and dislikes are and where they would like to live.”
Hunter said she remains optimist that more physicians will be interested in working in Burns Lake.
“We have a brand new hospital, with ultra modern updated equipment; it gives us something to recruit into,” she said.
Northern Health says recruitment for more health-care professionals is still ongoing.
“Recruitment is continuing and we remain optimistic that more physicians may be joining the community over the next year.”
Rural communities in Canada have had difficulties recruiting and retaining physicians for decades. According to Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 13.8 per cent of British Columbians were living in rural areas in 2011 while only 6.3 per cent of physicians were working in those areas.