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General News · 26th November 2014
Susan Ellingsen
The Board of the Cortes Community Health Association has proven unable to attract a physician to Cortes for 6 months-or I should more correctly say, Island Health has been absolutely ineffective in recruiting a doctor for us. I have become aware of the many rural recruiting programs that have been set up recently, and I would like to know where we fit in. I notice that a $100,000 incentive was offered to entice doctors to Galiano Island-with successful outcome, also to Bella Coola, Port Hardy and Tofino and 11 other rural communities. On the date of the news release pertaining to this particular project we in fact had a doctor, however a few months later our Doctor retired.

This government continually brags about their commitment to seeing that all British Columbians have access to health care. Cortes Island is desperate.

I shouldn't have to point out that the crux of the problem is the governments failure to put adequate money into the training of doctors. Nor should I have to point out that by terminating the influx of foreign trained doctors the situation in rural communities is made more desperate. If we trained enough doctors in this country those doctors might first fill the juicier positions in cities, then the remainder would take rural positions. Students could be accepted into medical schools by providing guarantees that they would work in a rural area for 5 years-or they could be forgiven their student loans in return for going into a rural practice. But surely you know all this.

My next concern is regarding the state of the practice here. Five years ago we had a very popular doctor who had to leave because of an unfortunate set of circumstances. The clinic was buzzing with patients. We also had a full time nurse practitioner kept busy. The next practitioner didn't meet peoples needs so well, so the practice declined. The nurse practitioner left and moved to Quadra Island. Many people liked her and so followed her to Quadra. Now we are down to having a different locum every time we turn around-result? You guessed it-still less people visiting the clinic. So, next, we will have Island Health telling us that we don't need a doctor. This is absolutely incorrect. We are a lively community of 1000 people, with a large retirement community as well as many young families. The costs forced on these people trying to acquire some adequate consistent health care off-island are exorbitant in terms of money and time. We need a nurse practitioner also.

So, could you, the experts, please find the time to examine the options and figure out a way to solve our crisis. I know that you will be aware of many options that I would have a difficult time discovering. I and about a thousand other Cortesians will be grateful for your clarity.

Yours truly,
Susan Ellingsen