The CEO and the board chair of Interior Health were in Castlegar touring IH facilities last Wednesday. Left to right: Chris Mazurkewich

Interior Health still looking to fill physician and psychiatrist positions in Castlegar area

Interior Health CEO says Castlegar could have two more physicians by next summer, but IH is still looking for more psychiatrists.

Three was the magic number for Interior Health at the close of 2015.

Castlegar News last reported that the health authority was short three psychiatrists in the Kootenay Boundary region in November and was looking to hire three physicians as of December. As Chris Mazurkewich, CEO of Interior Health (IH), and Erwin Malzer, board chair of IH, were in town on Wednesday touring IH facilities, we had a chance to ask them if there’s been any progress with hiring new physicians and psychiatrists.

In regards to physicians, Castlegar may only be short one instead of three by next summer.

“There are 12 physicians in the area and they’re looking to recruit for three and they have two physicians going through the process and if they make it through all the approval processes, they’ll be here by summer time in 2017,” said Mazurkewich. “So we’re quite optimistic about that.”

He also praised the community for its recruitment efforts. “I think the community has done a good job working with physicians in terms of recruitment, with support from Interior Health,” said Mazurkewich.

And as for psychiatrists, the region currently has eight psychiatrists with two off on leave, making things no better than they were in November, when six psychiatrists were working, one was one leave and IH was seeking to hire for three positions. Mazurkewich said they’d ideally hire two more psychiatrists for the region. Until then, IH is managing its mental health care resources the best it can.

“We’re expecting one back in the near future from leave, which will alleviate some of the pressure,” said Mazurkewich. “There’s group practices where psychiatrists are doing the high end work around the in-patient hospital and high end clinical work, and looking at patients and then transferring the care to mental health workers who are in touch with them about what to do with them. So we’re sharing the workload in terms of what the psychiatrists absolutely need to do, versus what can a mental health person help out while we’re going through the recruitment process of psychiatrists.”