It started with the closure of the walk-in clinic in April 2022.
Then in June of this year, remaining physicians at the Colwood Medical Treatment Centre on Sooke Road moved to Langford, said Mayor Doug Kobayashi.
“We had nothing now. We didn’t have any type of urgent care,” said Kobayashi.
When the Colwood clinic closed, Kobayashi reached out to Minister of Health Adrian Dix and within hours he was on a call with the minister advocating for the return of urgent care in Colwood.
Kobayashi expected it to take years for any movement, but the province moved “at lightning speed,” he said.
The province leased the building and is now undertaking renovations to expand its capacity. That work is expected to be complete in December.
A couple of doctors have already been recruited to move their practice into the Colwood clinic in December and will be bringing their patients with them, Kobayashi said.
The goal is to recruit more doctors to offer walk-in services and longitudinal care by next spring to those who don’t have a family doctor, he said.
Kobayashi said about half of Colwood residents do not have a family doctor. That no longer includes himself.
Kobayashi said he grew up in the West Shore and when he returned to the area in 2009, he struggled to find a family doctor.
He used walk-in clinics when he needed to and prided himself on not being a burden on the health-care system, because he rarely saw a doctor.
He ended up developing congestive heart failure and diabetes, both of which he said were preventable.
“I can tell you I wouldn’t have the medical issues I have today if I would have had a family doctor,” he said.
“I had to have heart failure, and then I was forced on a doctor.”
Dr. Josh Greggain, president of Doctors of B.C., said the closure of the Colwood clinic is part of the crisis in primary care that has been ongoing for a couple of years.
The cost of housing and doing business in Greater Victoria has exacerbated challenges in retaining family doctors, but every community is struggling with a shortage of physicians, he said.
Greggain said he has seen some small improvements since the implementation of a new payment model for family physicians by the province in February, including some clinics stabilizing and new patients being accepted into practices.
He said about 350 new physicians from out of province or out of the country have joined the longitudinal family physician payment model.
That model pays doctors based on time spent with patients, the number of patients seen in a day, the number of patients attached to their practice, the complexity of patients’ issues and overhead office costs, instead of a $30 or $40 set fee per visit, regardless of the severity of a patient’s problem.
Another 300 family doctors have returned to longitudinal practice after providing other kinds of care, he said.
“We think this is a signal that we are in fact making some progress, and this is the first knowledge that I know of that a clinic that was closed a year ago is reopening, although there have been other brand-new clinics opened up in the province in the last six months,” Greggain said.