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Daycare for new Campbell River doctors would be ‘game changer’

A spokesperson for two Campbell River medical groups says daycare for female doctors would be a game changer in recruiting more physicians to the city.

Dr. Jordyn Vanderveen, speaking for the Campbell River & District Division of Family Practice and the Campbell River Medical Staff Association, asked city council Thursday night for help with recruitment in a number of areas.

The groups say the region has lost eight doctors in the last year-and-a-half and stands to lose “many more” through retirement.

Vanderveen says daycare would attract female doctors and allow them to expand their hours.

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“When you’re going back to work it’s the difference maker of three to five months postpartum versus two weeks postpartum. If you can have daycare provision you can go back sooner and you are motivated to do so,” she said.

She says daycare and the cost of living have been “rub points” in bringing doctors here.

“We potentially lost an emergency room physician due to this issue (daycare) specifically. Every other thing was taken care of but this issue was the crunch with her,” Vanderveen explained.

Island Health is currently not involved in medical-based daycare but the city could collaborate if the idea got traction, council heard.

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Coun. Tanille Johnston says the hospital does have land it could use to build a daycare and partnering would be “phenomenal.” Johnston is proud Campbell River has many female physicians.

She says Campbell River is unique in its urgency for doctor recruitment because there are seven doctor vacancies in the North Island that are putting added pressure on Campbell River, which is the medical hub.

Council also heard from Vanderveen that retention of international doctors who are assigned to a community under a program called “fee for service” is “not great.” Many leave after putting in their two years because of family and a lack of religious organizations that are “not well represented in Campbell River” and a lack of specific ethic groups.

While there are struggles on that front, four family doctors are trained in Campbell River every year and Vanderveen says retaining those doctors from the residency program is very high.

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Answering a question from Coun. Ron Kerr about any “game changing decisions” the city could make, Vanderveen answered that Campbell River needs to at least match what other communities on Vancouver Island are doing and that includes the “red carpet welcome.”

An action plan from city staff will come to a future council meeting.

“It’s worth noting that, I think only in Campbell River – maybe in Courtenay as well – in one day you can go fishing, skiing and golfing in the same day. That’s got appeal to someone,” Coun. Doug Chapman chuckled.

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