There is no more important issue to many Colwoodians than improved access to primary health care services.
Colwood is exploring an opportunity to address our community's current physician shortage in partnership with Pure Pharmacy and Aroga Lifestyle Medicine by establishing a medical clinic in a newly constructed facility at the Commons in Royal Bay.
There are many municipalities in British Columbia who deliver heath care services either as a partner, a co-funder, or as the primary delivery agent. As a new service area for Colwood, the City will be exploring this proposal, its business case implications, and the associated governing regulatory framework parameters.
The health care challenge for communities like Colwood
Colwood has roughly 22,000 residents and is growing rapidly, with zero primary health care providers. The Ministry of Health defines a full-time family practice as having 1250 patients. This means Colwood needs 18 family practitioners to be self sufficient.
This is a problem shared by many municipalities in Canada. Family Medicine has seemingly become an unattractive field for new MD graduates to enter for reasons that a municipality can assist with:
- Lack of training/interest in running a business (which office medical practices are);
- Perceived/real risk/stress associated with operating a business in a highly inflationary environment with labour regulations that are hostile to small business;
- Insufficient remuneration compared to other settings of care such as hospitalist work;
- No benefits, no pension, no maternity leave, no back-up;
- Inability to create attractive recruitment and retention packages for support staff; and
- Very high cost of living, especially housing, in Greater Victoria compared to other regions.
Supporting long-term access to primary health care for Colwood residents
Colwood's primary objective for taking on the delivery of heath care would be simple: to support a system that recruits and retains primary care physicians and nurse practitioners to provide Colwood residents with stable, long-term access to primary health care.
The funding required for the consideration of this business case would come from Colwood's Corporate Contingency Budget. The specific funding required for establishing and supporting a primary health care service function will be established through business case development.
Colwood Council is scheduled to discuss this proposal at their meeting on Monday, January 22, 2024. Watch for more information to come on this innovative initiative.
In the City's recent Life in Colwood survey on household prosperity, 69% of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with access to health care in Colwood. Top issues are difficulty finding providers, limited facilities, and long wait times. Read more at www.colwood.ca/HouseholdProsperity.
Sandra Russell, Communications Manager