The Yates Street Integrated Health Clinic will be closing at the end of June if provincial funding for more doctors doesn’t come through. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Downtown Victoria medical clinic faces closure because of doctor shortage

The Yates and Quadra Integrated Health Centre is likely to close in June

A Victoria health care staple is likely to close by the end of June.

The Yates and Quadra Integrated Health Centre has been in operation for over 18 years, offering both family practices and a walk-in clinic that’s open 363 days a year. However, a sudden loss of medical staff may force the doors closed.

“It’s been a very busy clinic in the downtown core of Victoria,” said medical director Dr. James Houston, “But we’ve got six full-time doctors leaving.”

Two doctors are returning to their homeland, Ireland, while another doctor is retiring after 40 years of practice. With three doctors down, the clinic is unsustainable, forcing another three doctors to search for positions at alternative clinics beginning in June.

ALSO READ: Clinic closure leaves Sidney with one walk-in option

As the doctors gradually leave starting on April 19, the walk-in patient load is likely to swell from its current 372 patients per week up to 584 per week.

Finding replacement staff has not been easy.

“It’s near impossible to recruit more doctor’s at a community clinic,” Houston said. “If a new student takes up a job at the hospital they earn 30 to 40 per cent more, and work less hours.”

Still, Houston has managed to recruit three more doctors for the clinic to begin at the end of June with a caveat: he needs funding from the province.

“I’ve requested $23,000 per month from the ministry,” Houston said. “If those patients were to go to the emergency it would cost four times as much for the exact same thing.”

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

Houston said he initially put the request in to several provincial leaders in January, including to Finance Minister Carole James and Health Minister Adrian Dix, but has not heard back.

Houston said that the province is focusing on more primary care centres, such as the new Westshore Primary Care Centre, but that resources aren’t being distributed strategically.

“The Westshore clinic isn’t functioning well because they can’t recruit the doctors; I’ve got the doctors but I don’t have the funding,” Houston said.

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

Comparatively, the Westshore clinic sees an average of 375 patients per week.

Houston said if he doesn’t hear back from the province very soon, he’ll have to tell his new recruits to look elsewhere.

“I’ve been running this clinic for almost 19 years,” Houston said. “I feel bad for the patients, and they may be mad at me, but I’ve tried everything I can.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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