Interior Health – the authority responsible for recruiting doctors to Princeton – has a problem it can’t easily fix.
Princeton desperately needs another doctor to help with on-call emergency department work.
But the problem is, there isn’t enough patients in town for another doctor to make a living.
I spoke with a doctor for the April 11 Spotlight who confirmed this.
We have three doctors here already. One does on-call emergency department work anytime, the second only does it during daytime hours, while the third doesn’t do it at all.
Since the other two doctors aren’t willing to do on-call work, a gap is left in service.
This gap has led to Interior Health announcing Princeton Hospital’s emergency department will close from midnight to 8 a.m. Monday to Thursday starting May 1.
Princeton doesn’t have a problem with patients finding a regular doctor. The problem is filling on-call ER shifts.
But a doctor can’t make a living by just manning an emergency room – they need patients.
So why would a doctor choose Princeton if there aren’t enough patients for him/her?
It’s hard enough getting a doctor to work in a rural town that has patients seeking a regular doctor.
It will be (nearly) impossible for Princeton to find a new doctor the way things are now.
There has been a lot of talk about rural towns in Canada not being able to find doctors – all with valid points.
But Princeton isn’t simply looking to attract a doctor to this small but pretty place in the Okanagan. We need a doctor who is willing to work with not enough patients (which isn’t going to happen).
With hundreds of small communities in B.C., doctors won’t pick Princeton.
Other towns have patients that will line up at a new doctor’s door.
Princeton already has enough doctors, they’re just not working on-call emergency department shifts.
This is why Interior Health representatives say they will re-look at Princeton Hospital’s ER in another year – they don’t know what to do until another doctor retires or starts to do (more) on-call work.
They tell me the two older doctors in town are valuable members of the community.
I don’t doubt this for a minute. It’s rare to find doctors, especially these days, who want to work in a small town and people have told me they are an asset to the community.
But something needs to be done about our hospital.