After serving the community for nearly 30 years, the Washington Park Medical Clinic in Courtenay is permanently closing.
The walk-in clinic – located at the Superstore Plaza at 757 Ryan Rd. – announced its last day of providing patient services is April 28.
A staff member at the clinic said doctors have to attach patients to the clinic, and the doctors working at the walk-in clinic have their own clinics in which they work on other days of the week with their own patients.
According to a letter posted on the clinic’s website, the average fee for a patient seen at the Washington Park office is $31, with 30 to 40 per cent of the amount going to cover overhead costs.
“The ever-increasing burden of administrative work to review laboratory and radiology results, specialist consults, and other paperwork are not paid for, and many physicians work, uncompensated, into the evening in order to get this done, and to ensure proper care,” reads the letter.
“For these reasons, and many more, it is difficult to financially support our clinics, which leads to the closures we have all heard about in the news. In addition, several physicians are turning away from longitudinal family medicine in order to work in other clinical environments that allow less stress and better compensation.”
Last fall, the provincial government and BC Family Doctors established a new payment model for family doctors that marks a departure from the fee-for-service model under which doctors are paid based primarily on the number of patients they see in a day.
The new model takes into account factors including the time a doctor spends with a patient; the number of patients a doctor sees in a day; the number of patients a doctor supports through their office; the complexity of the issues a patient is facing and the administrative costs currently paid directly by family doctors.
To be eligible for the new model, full-serivce family doctors must provide full-serice family physician services to a known panel of patients for a minimum of one day per week; develop and provide a list of their active patients to a provincial system by July 1, 2023, amongst other regulations.
The new payment model is set to come into effect on Feb. 1.
According to the clinic, there are 900,000 British Columbians without a family doctor.