Clinic business

Whistler Options for Sexual Health Clinic Temporarily Closing

The clinic’s months-long struggle to find a new administrator is another indicator of Whistler’s ongoing staff shortage.

Whistler Options for Sexual Health Clinic will close on October 31 due to a staffing shortage, but Options Executive Director Michelle Fortin wants to make one thing clear.

“We’re not closing,” she said.

Ideally, the clinic’s doors will only remain closed for the short term, with Options (the non-profit medical service provider formerly known as the Planned Parenthood Association of BC) planning to reopen once it hires a new administrator.

Options for Sexual Health Whistler is currently open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:45 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Whistler Health Care Center, offering services such as birth control counseling, low-cost contraceptives, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening, cervical screening, pregnancy testing and counseling on pro-choice options, as well as general sexual health education and referrals to approximately 25 patients each week. This is one of 45 pop-up style clinics that Options operates across the province.

“We’ve been trying to replace our receptionist for about five months,” explains Fortin. “They gave us a lot of [notice] and we have a lot of clinicians like nurses and doctors who are desperate to continue providing STI care and contraceptive care in Whistler, through the Options clinic, but… we have had trouble finding people to replace our receptionist , and without the administration, we cannot run the clinic.

Beyond the standard medical admission forms and the office work that comes with the job, she added: “Luckily there are a lot of people having sex in Whistler, but that also means there are more STI testing in Whistler, so it’s really important that we have administrators who can respond and get the lab work done for people, so that we can make sure that we get [patients] if they need a follow-up appointment.

Fortin said she hopes one of the candidates who recently expressed interest in the part-time administration position “will join us very quickly,” allowing the clinic to get back up and running before the season. ski.

Asked where Whistlerites can access similar services in the meantime, a spokesperson for Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) said in an email that the health authority is “committed to providing health care services comprehensive health and support for residents of the Sea to Sky Corridor”.

While VCH is currently working with the BC Ministry of Health and a Primary Care Networks (PCNs) Steering Committee to establish more PCNs in the region, possibly including the Sea to Sky Corridor, “VCH is also freeing up space in the Whistler Health Care Center (WHCC) to accommodate more primary care providers,” the spokesperson added.

The statement also highlighted WHCC’s Youth Services Program, offering confidential walk-in appointments – for services including, but not limited to, free or low-cost contraception, screening STIs, pregnancy testing and counseling and mental health services – to young people aged 19 or under.

Meanwhile, a sexual health options clinic is open in Squamish on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., while the provincial non-profit team of registered nurses, counselors and sex educators are available to offer information through its Sex Sense program at 1-800-739-7367.

Staff shortage: British Columbia recorded 169,280 vacancies in Q2

The temporary closure of the local clinic is just one more example of the ongoing labor shortage that is testing Whistler employers ahead of what is expected to be a busy ski season.

“It’s not just the tourism and hospitality industry that’s being affected, it’s all industries,” acknowledged Cindy Conti, a human resources consultant specializing in the Lower Mainland, Coast and mountains for go2HR, the human resources and tourism and hospitality health and safety association of British Columbia.

According to the most recent data available from Statistics Canada, British Columbia had 169,280 total job vacancies in the second quarter (Q2) of 2022. Of these, 10,260 were health occupations, offering an average hourly wage of $32.85, while 60,200 were in the sales and service industry (compared to 39,920 vacancies in Q2 2021), which offered an average hourly wage of $17.85. There were 4,200 vacancies in arts, culture, recreation and sports occupations (well above the 2,235 vacancies recorded during the same period the previous year) that paid an average of $29.80 per hour to employees.

Not all statistics paint a negative picture: according to go2HR’s BC Tourism and Hospitality Employment Tracker, employment in the province’s tourism and hospitality sector rose 0.14% from 353,500 in August 2022 to 354,000 in September 2022, surpassing pre-COVID levels by 17,000 more. jobs compared to September 2019.

Yet the province’s tourism and hospitality labor force – that is, those working in the tourism and hospitality sector and unemployed job seekers whose last job was in the sector – fell 2% to 361,000 in September 2022, about 6,000 less than the August total.

Some regions have a harder time recruiting workers into the industry than others, Conti acknowledged, with factors like baby boomers retiring in droves, employees choosing to walk away from work hotelier due to pandemic restrictions, affordability and housing issues all contributing to the labor shortage. .

The employment landscape in British Columbia encourages employers to step back and assess how their business is performing, Conti said, whether it’s merging two positions into one or changing policies in the workplace. purpose of prioritizing the well-being of employees.

His advice? “You also want to be able to keep good employees coming to you,” she said, “Review what you’re already doing and if it’s working, and if it’s not, find a better way. to do. Connect with your fellow employers, other businesses and find out if they are doing something better than you — share ideas, best practices, especially in smaller communities. What works for one may not work for another, but just be open to different ideas…be innovative, and if something isn’t working, fix it.

For Fortin, adjusting Options’ recruiting strategy to Whistler means shelling out valuable funds to advertise the receptionist position beyond free platforms like Indeed and Craigslist; offer a higher than usual starting salary for the part-time gig; and investigating the possibility of getting additional incentives, such as a ski pass, to “sweeten the pot”, she said.

Although the Options Clinic in Whistler has started interviews, Fortin has always encouraged interested candidates who are “engaging, comfortable talking about sex and reproductive health, and…organized” to apply for the position.

“It’s an evening job that’s not in a bar,” she says. Plus, “It’s a really rewarding role – people come in[to the clinic] anxious and they leave smiling because whatever their discomfort, they know how to handle it when they leave.

“There’s a lot of joy in it.”