New walk-in clinic opened in downtown. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

New walk-in clinic opened in downtown. (Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS)

New walk-in clinic tries to ease pain in Maple Ridge

Facing same challenge of hiring doctors

The doctor shortage in Maple Ridge is being eased just a bit now with the opening of Pure Care (Walk-in) Clinic in the downtown beside the Maple Ridge Public Library.

Dr. Jas Dhaliwal, who sits on the board of the Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice, opened the doors about two weeks ago.

“It’s central Maple Ridge, so it’s a good location,” said Treena Innes, executive-director with the division.

She said the intent is to recruit doctors from around the Lower Mainland to staff the operation on an ad hoc basis. To keep them though requires a steady client base to make it worthwhile. Dhaliwal’s trying to create a flexible model to make it attractive to physicians.

“This is his way of helping out. So people should start using it. It’s hard to recruit doctors unless they’re know they’re going to receive lots of patients,” Innes said.

Doctors though are limited to seeing 50 patients per day at walk-in clinics.

Coun. Bob Masse hopes it works out but points out the clinic is facing the same issues as others, not being able to find enough doctors to staff clinics.

“I wish him success but that’s what other care clinics are struggling with, getting doctors to fill the shift. That’s the whole problem, getting doctors to cover the shifts. So if he’s got some way of doing that, that’s fantastic.”

The government needs to increase the number of doctor residences in hospitals so medical students can finish their training, he added.

Meanwhile, there are 1,000 international medical graduates waiting to complete their Canadian training as well, he added.

And even though Maple Ridge is getting four new doctors in the next few months, they’ll be replacing two who are retiring and another who’s leaving the country.

Masse wants the government to restore funding to the Division of Family Practice so it can resume its GP for Me program.

That program ran for three years, ending in 2017, and brought 17 new doctors to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows at a total program cost of $225,000.