This story is a part of Situation Critical, a collection from CBC British Columbia reporting on the boundaries individuals on this province face in accessing well timed and acceptable well being care.
Dr. Anna Chodyra has crossed land and sea to practise drugs.
Initially from Poland, the 47-year-old first immigrated to Canada as a global medical graduate in 2001.
She did her residency in Calgary earlier than crossing the Rockies in 2006, when she relocated to the small metropolis of Port Moody within the Tri-Cities space of B.C.’s Decrease Mainland, simply east of Vancouver. She labored there for 13 years earlier than following the Barnet Freeway east to Coquitlam, the place she joined Meadowbrook Household Apply.
The household physician stated she at the moment has a affected person panel of two,100 individuals — and he or she is not positive the place any of them will go when she, and her household, relocate to New Zealand this fall.
“It is a very troublesome determination, understanding that I am leaving my sufferers with out discovering somebody to exchange me, leaving them on their very own,” stated Chodyra, including that she by no means deliberate on leaving B.C.
“We tried to discover a alternative doctor, however we could not. No one is taking on practices anymore.”
Chodyra closed her B.C. follow on the finish of June, as she prepares to affix a brand new household doctor group within the small city of Waihi, about two hours southeast of Auckland.
She stated the choice stems from a must be nearer to her husband’s household in Australia, and due to “the state of main care in B.C.,” together with the province’s present fee-for-service system and staffing shortages which she says might be much less of an issue in New Zealand, the place she can have 5 nurses and three medical doctors serving to help sufferers.
“Household medical doctors, we do not really feel supported and we actually really feel undervalued,” she stated.
Her imminent departure, nevertheless, has despatched shock waves all through the Tri-Cities, as her sufferers scramble to seek out new household medical doctors amid a scarcity, the place an estimated one million British Columbians are already with out a main care doctor.
The Fraser Northwest Division of Household Apply (FNDFP) — a non-profit group that works with and helps household physicians in Anmore, Belcarra, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody — stated its membership has decreased seven per cent over the previous yr. It estimates that, throughout the six communities, there are 170 main suppliers, roughly 49 of whom reside in Coquitlam.
The non-profit’s program director, Jessie Mather-Lingley, stated that since 2014, Coquitlam has misplaced almost 50 household practitioners. She stated 15 of these have been since 2021, both on account of retirement, relocation or altering roles inside well being care.
B.C.’s Ministry of Well being stated in a press release that it “is dedicated to making sure all British Columbians have entry to well being care after they want it.”
“The variety of household physicians has elevated by almost 9 per cent since 2016-17 to six,760 FPs (household physicians) within the province in 2020-21. That is a median annual improve of two.1 per cent.”
Nonetheless, Chodyra and different medical doctors fear that sufferers unable to seek out new physicians will flip to acute care suppliers like hospital emergency departments for non-urgent care, as a result of they haven’t any different possibility, additional straining British Columbia’s health-care system with delays and elevated prices.
Medical doctors with out medical doctors
For household physician Mahsa Mackie, Chodyra’s departure hits particularly near dwelling. Together with working in Coquitlam, she can be one of many sufferers Chodyra is abandoning.
“If somebody who we predict has loads of years forward is closing their follow or leaving the neighborhood, it is by no means an excellent signal,” stated Mackie.
Mackie, who completed her residency in 2014, stated the toughest a part of her physician’s determination to shut store is understanding she and her colleagues at Manhas Well being Co. Well being Clinic will be unable to absorb all of Chodyra’s “orphans.”
“I’ve a pair thousand sufferers and my ready time is already a few weeks. Taking extra sufferers means my present sufferers wouldn’t have entry to care in time.”
Mackie stated she has taken a few of Chodyra’s sufferers, however that many extra are caught on the clinic’s wait listing, which has been rising ever since she joined in 2021.
‘Orphaned’ sufferers might pressure ER sources
Emergency doctor Dr. Ali Abdalvand, who can be a part of Chodyra’s present roster, tells CBC that orphaned sufferers will flip to short-term cease gaps like pressing main care, or acute emergency care if they can’t discover a household physician of their neighborhood.
“The aim of getting emergency drugs as a specialty, and of getting the emergency division as a part of the health-care system, is supply of acute unscheduled care,” stated Dr. Abdalvand.
“If you find yourself sharing the sources of an emergency division to ship main care, that can go away much less and fewer of these sources for supply of acute unscheduled care.”
Knowledge from the Canadian Institute of Well being Data, in the meantime, exhibits that emergency division bills throughout Canada have climbed in recent times.
The price of an emergency division go to climbed from $96 in 2005-2006, to $158 in 2018-2019, an annual development charge of 4 per cent.
The identical information set additionally exhibits that, in 2018-2019, emergency division employees in B.C. labored extra extra time than anyplace else in Canada, besides the Northwest Territories, at 9.14 per cent of all hours labored.
As he seems to be for a brand new household doctor, Abdalvad tells CBC the province is shedding “among the finest medical doctors” he has ever met.
“I do know sufferers who instructed me [Chodyra] went and received [their] prescription crammed … and dropped it off,” he stated. “That is above and past [care]. And that makes me unhappy.”