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Vancouver Island doctor says healthcare crisis is getting worse

As more Canadians struggle with the healthcare system, one Vancouver Island doctor says it’s getting worse.

Dr. Alex Nataros is the Medical Director of the North Island Community Health Centre in Port Hardy, which serves patients living on North Vancouver Island.

While the centre has served over 6,000 patients since opening in August last year, Nataros says we are seeing a crisis.

“Outside of our North Island region, we see this in the Comox Valley and Campbell River. I practiced in the Valley for 5 years and saw every day the impact of patients not having family doctors,” said Nataros.

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This comes as a recent Leger poll shows 70 percent of Canadians are worried about not being able to receive good-quality medical attention if they need it, with the top three words that people say when thinking about the healthcare system being “long waits, stressed, and failing.”

While the province has launched an at-home screening program for cervical cancer, cancer care is still a big concern, according to Nataros.

“We’ve seen and heard the stories about the government now sending cancer patients to Bellingham, to Washington state to get basic radiation treatment, and there is concern that the care is not going to be there when they need it,” said Nataros.

“I see it every day in terms of anxiety of patients who aren’t sure if they can get the care needed for advanced cancer care, and our oncologists are working day and night, moving mountains to do what they can in delivering care.”

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With cancer being one of the leading causes of death, Nataros says that there needs to be an increase in cancer care resources, increase the number of radiation and medical oncologists, and radiation technicians.

Physician assistants are also needed, with Nataros adding that they would help deliver more care if implemented.

“We need to empower family doctors, cancer doctors, specialists to lead our healthcare system and lead the delivery of the resources.”

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