I have practiced family medicine at Westminster West End Medical Centre in New Westminster since 1979 providing full-service healthcare to over three thousand patients. The demographics are shifting with younger families replacing long-time residents. According to Statistics Canada (2021 census) the largest age sector in New Westminster is the 25 to 34 years old group. In addition, the population density will surge with future development adjacent to the 20th street sky train station. The same 2021 census reported an 11% increase over the previous 5 years. The already desperate demand for primary care providers in these communities will only escalate. I am more and more frustrated and alarmed as I increasingly turn away people in need of medical attention. These people are left to seek other alternatives and ultimately contribute to the congestion of emergency rooms.
At its peak my clinic had five family physicians serving over twelve thousand patients. Unfortunately, through attrition and the shortage of replacement physicians I am now the only primary care provider at my clinic. The clinic has nine examining rooms as well as a generous waiting area which could easily accommodate at least two more family physicians or nurse practitioners. The clinic is located at the corner of 20th Street and 8th Ave with easy accessibility by bus and only two blocks away from the 20th street sky train station. There is a large parking lot providing free parking for both patients and employees. The clinic is at street level and is wheelchair accessible. I currently employ two medical assistants and am open four days a week. However, this clinic could easily function efficiently five or even six days a week as it has in the past. Overhead splitting is something that could be negotiated, and bill splitting is not an issue as each practitioner bills independently. I am a part owner of the building along with the adjacent pharmacy and other physicians which makes landlord issues very simple. At present I do not use EMR but all services are in place to support it. Any updates, cosmetic or otherwise, would be addressed to accommodate a satisfactory and efficient environment for additional health care providers.
Our medical building also includes the West End Medicine Centre Pharmacy, with five very experienced pharmacists and the Ostomy Care and Supply Centre with four nurse specialists (NSWOC’s) who provide ostomy, wound care and continence nursing to some three thousand patients. Having these experienced pharmacists and nurse specialists adjacent to me provides an incredible resource for both me and my patients and creates a health care environment we are very proud of.
I presently have no retirement plans but at my age it is imminent and without more primary health care providers in this clinic (be it physicians or nurse practitioners) the load on the medical system will become more critical.
In closing I would just like emphasize that we have a well-resourced collaborative medical centre that provides patients with exceptional care and feel strongly that additional health care providers at our clinic would contribute significantly to alleviating some of the pressure on our health care system. Our clinic has been in the same location for 72 years now and we know this community very well. Our hope is to continue providing care into the future.