Castlegar reaches fully-staffed level for physicians

Four new physicians means doctors in Castlegar are taking new patients.

After decades of physician shortages, Castlegar has finally achieved the goal of fully-staffed medical clinics.

There are currently 13 family physicians practicing in the city, four of whom were hired this past year.

“What this means for our community is there are now physicians taking new patients, and that if you require a family physician you should have one,” said Cheryl Gnyp, physician recruiter for Castlegar.

“The committee would just like to remind those people who currently don’t have a doctor to call one of the three clinics to make an appointment, as the best care is not visiting the ER when needed, but continuous care with a family physician.”

The Castlegar physician recruitment committee is comprised of Dr. Ellen Smart, Dr. Rainer Ankenbauer, Area I director Andy Davidoff, Area J director Rick Smith, Castlegar’s chief administrative officer Chris Barlow (formerly John Malcolm), mayor Bruno Tassone (formerly Lawrence Chernoff), and Gnyp.

The committee worked hard for many years to make this goal a reality.

“But we would be remiss if we failed mention the individuals who recognized the initial need in the community, and came out to brainstorm what could be done; from the business community and the Chamber of Commerce, to the former and current elected officials, they were all supporters from the beginning, and play a vital role in the success of this endeavour,” said a committee press release.

“We would also like to recognize the role the Divisions of Family Practice plays in supporting us, and last, but certainly not least, to the community members who are always there when a request is made for assistance. You are the real heroes who make this story the success it is.”

Community members have assisted in a wide range of ways including providing a home for a visiting doctor to stay in, spending time with a new family to make them feel welcome, taking someone rock climbing or kayaking so they are able to experience some of the area’s amazing places, and partners of physicians offering their homes and time in order to host numerous dinners as well as provide partner support and friendship.

“It really does take a village to recruit a doctor, and this is no single individual’s win, it is a win for the community of Castlegar, by the people who call it home,” said Gnyp.

Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow said the program will continue to ensure the city stays at a fully-staffed level.

“It has been a fantastic partnership between the city and Areas I and J and the physicians,” said Barlow. “We have come a long way in a couple of years, but we need to stay on top of it, so patients don’t have to go without doctors in the future.”

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