The Esquimalt Treatment Centre at 918 Esquimalt Rd. closed at the end of 2018, leaving Esquimalt with just one walk-in clinic (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Esquimalt explores options amidst doctor shortage crisis

A recent report found that between Esquimalt and Westshore, 36,000 people don’t have a family doctor

The Township of Esquimalt is researching strategies to combat the severe doctor shortage it faces.

In a committee of the whole meeting, Esquimalt council heard a report from the South Island Division of Family Practice (SIDFP), which stated that “the need for new primary care services in Esquimalt is immediate.”

This report comes forward following the recent closure of one of the two walk-in clinics in the area, and the relocation of one physician to the Victoria area.

This leaves the 17,000 residents in Esquimalt with one walk-in clinic, and a combined Esquimalt-Westshore population of 36,000 people without a family physician.

READ MORE: Esquimalt needs urgent health care facility, mayor says

The SIDFP recommended that both short term (in the next six months) and medium term (in the next 1-2 years) spaces need to be made available.

During committee, Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins noted that the letter followed ongoing discussions with Island Health and the South Island General Practitioners Division.

“What they have identified is that Esquimalt is in crisis. We do need more practitioners and they have sent that message forward and made requests to the province,” Desjardins said, adding that she could not give out details on these provincial requests at the time.

ALSO READ: Victoria doctor forced into early retirement as specialist moves into rental space

Council also spoke of the importance of making room for physicians within the Township

“As Esquimalt is changing and shifting, we need to make sure that we are addressing that there is commercial space available for those facilities,” Desjardins said.

Currently, research conducted on behalf of the Township and the Fraternal Order of Eagles is exploring more details about the need for physicians and possible solutions, with a final report expected on April 15.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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