Mayor asks for patience

Mayor Rob MacDougall is reassuring the community work is being done on the physician crisis.

Mayor Rob MacDougall is reassuring the community work is being done on the physician crisis.

Since the news Dr. Stent would be the sole remaining doctor in the community came out in January, things have been going on behind the scenes to address the situation.

Meetings have been taking place since January between Northern Health, representatives from the local medical clinic, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako, the District of Fort St. James, and Nak’azdli.

They have been working on how to address both the doctor shortage and the future operation of the medical clinic and emergency services in the community.

So far, Northern Health has hired a consultant to look at different options to address the situation and in March, the consultant brought forward somewhat of a plan.

Northern Health has also hired a full-time recruiter on a three-month contract to work at attracting permanent and locum physicians to help provide coverage in the community.

The consultant also presented two options for taking over the operation of the Fort St. James Medical Clinic, which Dr. Stent has been doing but would like to retire from.

One option would be Northern Health simply take over the management of the facility, the second would be a nonprofit society of community members partnering with Northern Health help support the clinic management and maintain a commitment from the community to local health care.

Northern Health is helping to financially support Dr. Stent in maintaining the clinic at this.

Further details of future clinic management and operations are still being worked on.

Last week, another meeting was held to begin to involve more members of the community in the process and to help get the information on what is going on out to the public. Each member of the initial group meeting since January then invited a few people.

The goal of the larger group was to still be able to have a manageable sized meeting, but help get more information out to the greater community and have more input on how the community would like to be involved in running the clinic as a society.

Mayor Rob MacDougall said “as local residents, if we are going to pursue a non profit then we have to come up with a plan.”

Another meeting will now be set up for the larger group in a couple of weeks to discuss the pros and cons of forming a nonprofit society to run the clinic and see where the community wants to go from here.

“I’d just like to say thank you to the residents of our area for their patience and understanding and ask them to just allow the process to continue to take place and hopefully we’ll find a long-term resolution as a result,” said MacDougall.