Nakusp to use New Denver playbook to attract doctors to town

The village may soon be down to three doctors, half the full complement

A special committee has been struck to try to head off a looming doctor’s shortage in Nakusp.

Two doctors have already left Nakusp in the last year, and a third may be leaving soon, cutting the complement of doctors in the village from six to three.

“Right now we have four positions to run a busy clinic and keep the emergency department open 24 hours a day,” says Mayor Tom Zeleznik, who is the council representative on the committee.

“We are facing a burn-out situation, and that could make recruitment potentially be more difficult.”

Three people — Zeleznik, a local doctor, and a private citizen — will sit on the newly-minted committee.

Zeleznik says the situation has been slowly getting worse, and now about 800 people in the area are without a regular doctor.

“This has added pressure to our already full practices, which has led to increased wait times for appointments, and driving patients to visit the emergency department for unnecessary reasons at a high cost to the taxpayer,” the mayor told council at its last meeting.

Zeleznik says the recruitment committee will borrow from the Village of New Denver’s playbook. That community recently went from facing hour reductions at its health centre to a full complement of doctors.

SEE: Two new doctors for New Denver

“We’re going to go to conferences, reach out through advertising, bring candidates here for a visit, produce a video, t-shirts, and bumper stickers,” amongst other strategies, Zeleznik says.

The committee will apply for grants to pay for the promotional and recruitment activities. Details are still being worked out, Zeleznik says, as the committee has only held its founding meeting.

But he says the recruitment committee’s work is vital.

“If we want our community to grow, we need doctors and nurses and specialists,” he says. “So we have to give this a priority.”

Councillor Ken Miller, who sits on the hospital foundation, pledged that board’s help to the effort.

BC Healthphysicians

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