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‘I’m screwed’: Victoria patients irate as doctor announces clinic is closing

Shelbourne clinic tells patients it’s shutting down in March
Another clinic is closing in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)

Patients who use a Victoria medical clinic are feeling angry and despondent after being told it will be closing down in the new year amid a doctor shortage.

The Shelbourne Medical Clinic sent out an email to patients saying that it will be permanently closing on March 31, 2024.

“We acknowledge how difficult and frustrating the healthcare system is to access and navigate at this time; however, we do advise that you attempt to establish yourself at another clinic within our community prior to our clinic’s closing,” reads the email from Dr. Lorne Verhulst.

The email recommends that people contact one of Victoria’s six Island Health Urgent and Primary Care Centres.

The news was called “devastating” by people who frequent the clinic.

“I’m screwed, basically,” said Gary (who didn’t want to give his last name) outside of the Shelbourne clinic on Friday (Dec. 15). “I moved to the area a year ago and have had nothing but problems finding medical care.”

Others outside the clinic expressed the same sentiment. The Shelbourne Medical Clinic’s website says this: “We regret that due to the shortage of family physicians, we no longer have family practices on site. We are a same-day only point of access to primary care.”

The lack of family doctors has reached a crisis point, according to experts and Greater Victoria residents.

The community of Colwood has been without local family doctors since its only walk-in clinic closed in 2022, leaving 21,000 people scrambling. Only recently it was announced that the town would get a re-opened primary care clinic.

Current data indicate one in five British Columbians and 100,000 Greater Victoria residents lack a family doctor. Signs decrying the situation can be found on lawns all over the region. The issue has prompted rallies on the lawn of the BC legislature.

Camille Currie, founder of the group BC Health Care Matters, has noted that even some family doctors don’t have their own family physician.

“I have witnessed the benefits of having a family doctor that knows us, knows our conditions and that grows with us,” said Currie, a complex-needs patient herself.

- With files from Black Press Media

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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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