There may be some relief on the near horizon for Smithereens without access to local primary care.
As of Monday (Oct. 17) there will be a new walk-in clinic open to the public three mornings a week on Third Ave.
“A small group of health care workers have made the arrangements to open this and we’re very excited to help alleviate some of the burdens in our community,” explained Dr. Matt Dykstra.
In addition to easing the burden of people needing care, the intent is also to take some pressure off the emergency department at the hospital.
“There is a tremendous need for family doctors in this town,” Dykstra said. “There’s an estimated 3,000 people in town with no GP. And that is before Dr. (Marius) Scholtz, one of our longest-standing family doctors in town, recently retired last month.”
Northern Health is currently trying to alleviate some of that problem by opening a clinic staffed by nurse practitioners, but until that happens Dykstra hopes this will fill some of the gap.
“The intent here is to give at least some basic primary care service to the community, ideally, those without a family doctor,” he said.
He noted that while the clinic is primarily for patients who do not have a family physician, people who do have a doctor will not be turned away if they need urgent care.
The practice will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and will have an initial capacity to treat approximately 20 patients per day.
Dykstra said that capacity could be increased over time depending on need and staffing, but stressed the clinic is not to be viewed as an alternative to finding a general practitioner.
Currently, there are no physicians in Smithers as they simply do not have the capacity to take on new patients.
People who do not have a doctor can register on the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice website or call 250 641 8108.
The clinic will be located 3842 Third Ave. Access is through a side door adjacent to the parking lot. There is no phone number for the clinic, it is drop-in only on a first-come, first-served basis. It opens at 8 a.m. Face masks must be worn in the clinic.