This story is part Critical situationa series of CBC British Columbia reports on the barriers residents of that province face in accessing timely and appropriate health care.
The only clinic serving a small community in B.C.’s Peace region is permanently closing on Saturday, making it more difficult for seniors living there to access medical services.
Earlier this month, the Fort St. John-based North Peace Primary Care Clinic (NPPCC), whose physicians provide in-person medical services at Taylor Medical Clinic, announced that it would discontinue services beginning October 1. .
According to a post on the Taylor Medical Clinic Facebook page, the NPPCC has agreed to provide the district of Taylor – about 18 kilometers south of Fort St. John, near the British Columbia-Alberta border – in-person patient care through the clinic since 2017. .
The Taylor government subsidizes the clinic’s operating costs, while doctors receive a fixed monthly salary from the province.
However, the NPPCC has moved to a fee-for-service model for doctors, according to Taylor Mayor Rob Fraser.
Under the compensation model, physicians are considered independent professionals and are paid by the province for each office visit, exam or operation. To stay afloat, they have to constantly work with a high volume of patients and run a business at the same time.
In a letter to the district in August, the NPPCC said it would be moving to a different funding model and that with this change, it would be “no longer practical” to continue providing services at Taylor Medical Clinic.
“We have enjoyed our five-year work with the community and are grateful for the opportunity to be of service,” the letter read.
CBC News reached out to NPPCC for comment on the change in payment model and the decision to halt services at Taylor Medical Clinic, but did not hear back in time for publication.
Challenges for seniors
While Taylor’s patients will still have access to their doctors, they will now have to travel to the NPPCC in Fort St. John for in-person care — which is bad news for elderly patients who may not have their own vehicle or access to a private car, says Fraser.
There is no public transit between Taylor and Fort St. John. About 150 residents, or 11% of Taylor’s population, are 65 years of age or older.
“Unfortunately, [for] some of these entry-level families only have one vehicle, so it’s hard to be able to free that vehicle when mom or dad has gone to work with it – and free that vehicle to go to Fort St. John – ” said Fraser on CBC sunrise north.
Fraser says the board is considering other medical service options for residents, including telehealth, which the Taylor Medical Clinic provided between 2014 and 2017.
He says he hopes the province and the Northern Health Authority can provide supports to help continue in-person medical services for Taylor residents.
In a written statement to CBC, Northern Health said it was exploring options for Taylor Medical Clinic to continue operations, but did not specify what those options were.
Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favorite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.