With the announcement that two of the current physicians will be leaving the Gabriola Medical Clinic shortly, the Clinic and the Gabriola Health Care Foundation are working together to recruit new doctors to Gabriola and to manage patient care in the interim. This will be accomplished through the creation of a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan. The short-term goal will be to recruit two new doctors. In the longer term, the goal will be to ensure that there is a sufficient number of practitioners to meet the primary health care needs of all Gabriolans.
Clinic Manager Caroline Farr said that her staff is working to secure long-term locum coverage to support the clinic in the interim during the recruitment process.
Chuck Connor, President of the Foundation said, “recruiting and retaining physicians in a rural practice is a challenge. Practising medicine on Gabriola is not a nine to five job and requires a commitment to providing emergency care without the support of the diagnostic tools and specialists found in urban settings.”
To support recruitment, the Foundation has established a budget to cover the costs of advertising and marketing, site visits by interested physicians and their families, relocation assistance and finding suitable accommodation. Recognizing the importance of community involvement and support in the recruitment and retention of doctors, the Foundation will also establish a Community Recruitment and Retention Committee. If you are interested in participating on the committee or wish further information send an email to supportingRandR@ghcf.ca
The Gabriola Medical Clinic issued the following letter to the Sounder.
To the Community of Gabriola Island,
The team at the Gabriola Medical Clinic would like to let you know that both Dr. Maciej Mierzewski and Dr. Ramak Shadmani have made the very difficult decision to close their medical practices on Gabriola Island. We wish them the very best in their new ventures and are grateful for their many contributions to our clinic and to our community.
Dr. Maciej Mierzewski will be closing his practice as of June 30, 2022 and
Dr. Ramak Shadmani will be closing her practice as of April 30, 2022.
We are currently exploring all possible options and are working closely with Island Health and the Gabriola Health Care Foundation in our efforts to recruit new physicians to our community. We are hopeful that we will find practitioners to take over both practices. In the interim, we are seeking long term locums to help bridge any gap.
Unfortunately, if no physicians are found before Dr. Mierzewski and Dr. Shadmani leave, their patients will be without a primary care provider for routine medical care. This possibility makes us deeply uncomfortable; the two remaining doctors at the clinic cannot possibly handle the needs of an additional 1,800 patients without more help.
Our Nurse Practitioner, Jennifer Lewis, has been attaching patients from the waitlist since February 2020 and has added nearly 300 people to her practice during that time. She will continue to build her practice based on the already existing waitlist. The clinic will of course need to prioritize medical care and will attach the most vulnerable and medically complex, meaning a small number of patients may be moved to one of the remaining practitioners. Those decisions will be made by Dr. Mierzewski and Dr. Shadmani before they close their practices.
We recognize that this is very troubling news and that you may have more questions. Please refer to our website (www.gabriolamed.ca) and other sources of community communication for updates. The Gabriola Health Care Foundation will work with the clinic to provide more information as we move forward.
We sincerely hope that we will find a solution for our clinic and our community and appreciate your patience and understanding. This is a difficult time for family medicine not only in our community, but across the province as well.
The Team at the Gabriola Medical Clinic