Thousands of locals will be left without a family physician as another Vancouver Island walk-in clinic shuts down operation.
In an update titled Closure Announcement, posted to the Eagle Creek Medical Clinic’s website, it was announced that the walk-in clinic will be closing effective April 15th.
According to the posting, two of the clinic’s physicians, Dr. George Zabakolas and Dr. Chelsie Velikovsky, have decided to stop practicing family medicine in Victoria. They will be moving to working primarily out of the United States and via local private “online-only” clinics.
This also affects the walk-in clinic at the same location.
In total, the closure affects 3,000 people and 5,000 on the waiting list for a family physician.
According to the notice, local physician shortages have affected the clinic’s ability to function effectively. The clinic also cannot handle the influx of the 3,000 newly orphaned patients.
After April 15th, the clinic will be switching to an in-house “doctor of the day” program.
“This is not good news for our community and the management team of Eagle Creek Medical Clinic (ECMC) feels terribly that this is happening,” the release said.
“We did explore any/all possible options to find a replacement provider for affected patients, however the other non-PCN clinicians in the clinic are already at or beyond capacity right now.”
According to the team, job postings have been made locally and internationally to replace the current physicians, however it is not anticipated that new doctors will be available to fill these two practices.
The posting caught the attention of locals when it was shared on a Victoria Reddit thread. One user noted the Reddit thread was the first they had seen the announcement, and the first they had heard of losing their family doctor.
According to the website, a letter was sent out to patients of the two doctors on January 10th informing them of the impending closure.
According to the clinic, there are currently more than 100,000 patients in Greater Victoria without a family doctor because of the severe shortage of community-based, longitudinal doctors in the Capital Regional District (CRD).
Therefore, clients will not be transferred to new providers.
Over the next three months, prior to the doctors’ departure, patients should book an ‘exit appointment’ with Dr. Zabakolas, Dr. Velikovsky or the Walk-in Clinic (if it is your ‘medical home’) as soon as possible.
“To all affected patients: we are sorry and we sincerely wish there was more we could do to offer better options for you.”