The Port McNeill & District Hospital. (North Island Gazette file photo)

The Port McNeill & District Hospital. (North Island Gazette file photo)

Island Health considering publicly owned clinic for health-challenged Port McNeill

Proposal for clinic space launched as community struggles to maintain services as staff shrinks

A North Island community questioning the future of its health care has at least a few more answers.

Port McNeill residents are concerned about maintaining current health care services after learning the town will only have one doctor on staff by the end of May.

Last week, Mayor Gaby Wickstrom used Facebook to provide some answers.

Wickstrom noted a proposal for clinic space was recently requested by the province, and then issued a list of information that she was given courtesy of Island Health:

1. Island Health recognizes the need to take steps to stabilize primary care for the residents of Port McNeill and surrounding rural and remote communities.

2. As one strategy, Island Health will issue a Request for Proposals seeking an appropriate site to establish a health authority owned and operated primary care clinic in Port McNeill.

3. Working closely with our community and clinical partners, our goal is to create a sustainable model for primary care in Port McNeill, similar to models used in other communities within Island Health.

4. It will take time to develop and stabilize this model, and recruit the clinical staff necessary to operate a sustainable clinic. This will require collaboration and a full community approach to recruitment.

5. In the interim, Island Health, in collaboration with FNHA, the community and our clinical partners, will use short-term options, such as the use of temporary clinician coverage, locums, and care providers from neighbouring communities to support patient care in Port McNeill and surrounding communities.

“The Town of Port McNeill and the ‘Namgis First Nation have been working together with Island Health to advocate for a better model of care for our residents and those who utilize both the clinic and hospital,” added Wickstrom. “Our goal is a sustainable, long term model that others in the province can look to as an example for rural health care.”

Port McNeill is currently served by a single private clinic that will be staffed by a single doctor by the end of May. That doctor and his departing partner say they have been struggling to maintain service levels under the current model and will not be able to continue.

They have been lobbying for a new model for the community of about 2,000 people and its surrounding area.

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RELATED: Port McNeill medical clinic closes then reopens as talks reach breaking point

RELATED: Departing doctor cuts Port McNeill staffing in half


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