A new practice with a Smithers-raised doctor has opened up in Smithers and will possibly alleviate the doctor shortage.
Northern Roots Primary Care is taking new patients at their office on Second Avenue. Dr. Blackstock and Dr. Quinn are both accepting patients that don’t currently have a family physician and Dr. Haskins will continue to see his current patients at the new location.
Dr. Mallory Quinn said it remains to be seen if their new practice will fill the physician void.
“It is very difficult to estimate how many patients don’t have family doctors but the best government estimates that we have is that 1,500 people [are without a doctor] in the area, which includes Witset and Telkwa. So hopefully between Dr. Blackstock and myself, we should be able to meet that number,” she said.
She added they also hope to help free up the emergency department at the hospital.
“It will also take some pressure off the emergency. People won’t have to go to the emergency for prescriptions or sore throats because they will have a doctor.
Ever since the walk-in clinic closed, the emergency has been the only option for some people. Or some people feel bad using the emergency for non-emergency and then end up in emergency.”
While Dr. Quinn is a new doctor in town, she isn’t new to the area. She grew up here and felt compelled to return. She graduated from high school in Smithers in 2001, went to Queen’s University, then UBC and then medical school at UNBC in Prince George (through UBC), and had a residency in Grand Prairie after that.
“I had locumed around in Alberta, B.C. and the Yukon for a year-and-a-half and two of my locums were here in Smithers,” she said. “I happened to have an afternoon off and went for a hike in the mountains with some girlfriends and that night I had a moment of ‘this is where I’m supposed to create my life.’ It is where I feel at home. I also had the feeling of wanting to give back to the community that had supported me so much growing up.”
Quinn said the Northern Medical Programs Trust also helped her become a doctor and return to open a practice in Smithers.
“Smithers put in a lot of money into the northern medical trust when it was started in 2004 in the hopes that they would reap the benefits at some point. I benefited from the funds in that trust, so this is my way of saying thank-you.”