Tuesday January 16, 2024 | COLWOOD, BC
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
The City of Colwood is looking at a possible partnership with a new medical clinic at the Commons in Royal Bay. Or alternatively, engaging in direct participation.
At this point, a motion on the upcoming January 22 City of Colwood council meeting agenda, if passed, would see staff directed to gather information and provide options to council on this matter.
Colwood is a fast-growing municipality in the west shore region of Greater Victoria, currently with about 22,000 residents. Within Colwood, the Royal Bay neighbourhood has taken on a personality, flavour and momentum of its own: progressive, modern, and well coordinated.
Dealing with the doctor shortage:
The Ministry of Health has defined a full-time equivalent (FTE) family practice as having 1,250 attached patients. Colwood had a 3-FTE family practice that was established in the community, but on June 30, 2023 that practice closed, leaving the city at zero FTE. The city says the community needs 18 FTE physicians to be self-sufficient in 2023.
The clinic involvement is described in a staff report as “a specific opportunity exists for the City to help address the current physician shortage in Colwood”, and describing the clinic as “a new service area for the City”.
The city says “there are many municipalities in British Columbia who have chosen to deliver healthcare services either as a partner, a co-funder, or as the primary delivery agent”.
A long-term care facility in Colwood (for seniors as well as brain-injury and hospice patients) to be operated by Island Health is slated to open in 2027.
Recently a private clinic (re)opened in Colwood on Sooke Road across from Colwood Corners, but apparently is serving only an established patient clientele.
Pure Pharmacy and Arogo Lifestyle Medicine:
They cite Pure Pharmacy and Aroga Lifestyle Medicine as two private companies that have approached the City of Colwood with an opportunity to establish a new medical clinic in a newly constructed purpose-built facility at the Commons in Royal Bay.
Both companies seem to be taking an entrepreneurial approach to health care in a range of ways.
City administration would explore the proposal, its business case implications, and the governing regulatory framework parameters to provide Council with options for consideration, as stated in the January 22 council agenda report.
Funding from contingency budget:
The City of Colwood staff report says that funding required for the consideration of this business case would come from Corporate Contingency Budget.
The specific funding required for establishing and supporting a primary healthcare service function will be established through business case development.
“In partnership with Pure Pharmacy, and Aroga Lifestyle Medicine the City of Colwood has an opportunity to
improve access to primary healthcare for Colwood residents, directly addressing our draft Strategic Plan Wellbeing tactic of exploring approaches to support access to family physicians in Colwood,” the city report states.
Broader health care issue:
Privatization of health care is a broader debate in BC and across Canada.
Colwood says that what they call Family Medicine has seemingly become an unattractive field for new medical doctor graduates, for reasons that include:
- 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
In BC the team-based care at Urgent Primary Care Clinics (UPCCs) has been developed over the past nearly seven years under the NDP government.
West shore scope:
A UPCC opened in the West Shore in 2018 (operated by Island Health); evidently it is always busy. While called ‘west shore’ it is on Goldstream Avenue in the next-door municipality of Langford, and already operating at full capacity. The City of Langford tried giving tax breaks to doctors on the cost of their office space; that didn’t pan out (a conflict with provincial health funding regulations).
There is a publicly-funded health care clinic on Goldstream Avenue in Colwood, which specializes in government-funded health-care supports and is not a general drop-in urgent care clinic. That opened in the fall of 2021, the same year that Esquimalt got a new UPCC.
A drop-in medical clinic in View Royal closed in 2022, which drew heightened attention to the doctor shortage at the time.
- West shore long-term care boost aims for 2027 completion (March 19, 2023)
- Doctor shortage highlighted by clinic closure in View Royal (January 18, 2022)
- New Westshore Community Health Center serves 6,700 (November 12, 2021)
- Health care: four primary care networks for Greater Victoria area (July 21, 2021)
- Two-phase opening for Esquimalt urgent & primary care centre (June 12, 2021)
- New urgent primary care centre in the works for Esquimalt (August 4, 2020)
- New urgent & primary care centre to open in downtown Victoria (April 22, 2020)
- Two new doctors and more office space for existing Sooke medical clinic (May 5, 2019)
- Nanaimo getting an urgent primary care centre (April 3, 2019)
- Langford gives permanent tax break to medical offices (October 27, 2018)
- New urgent primary care health centre in Langford to open November 5 (October 26, 2018)
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends has been covering news in the west shore region since 2008. That started with MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), then Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), followed by West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), and now Island Social Trends (mid-2020 to present).
News is posted daily at IslandSocialTrends.ca .
Founding editor is Mary P Brooke is now also reporting with the BC Legislative Press Gallery.
Ms Brooke holds a B.Sc. in health science, a Certificate in Public Relations, and also in digital marketing.
Mary P Brooke was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation journalism award in 2023 for contributing to her community through journalism.
She is the proud mother of four grown children. She has lived in the west shore region since 2007.