A nurse-practitioner-led clinic in Saanichton is still without a permanent replacement for two nurse practitioners who recently left the facility, leaving almost 800 patients in limbo.
Island Health has told patients that starting this week, an urgent primary care physician would be filling in while recruitment continues for the Peninsula Health Unit at 2170 Mount Newton Cross Rd., beside Saanich Peninsula Hospital.
The health authority says it’s been working on replacement coverage since “earlier this year” when it was first informed of the departures. “We are currently in the process of ensuring adequate coverage to the clinic while we work to recruit a new nurse practitioner,” says the letter to patients, dated July 24.
“During this transition period we will have a primary care provider available to address your urgent care needs and ensure that your health-care requirements are attended to in a timely manner.”
Virginia Watson-Rouslin said she started going to Peninsula Health Unit after losing her family doctor when Care Point Medical and Wellness Centre on Chatterton Way was closed in 2020 to reopen as an Urgent and Primary Care Centre.
A friend told Watson-Rouslin about the Peninsula Health Unit. She put in an application and four months later was matched up with nurse practitioner Jordan Ferrell.
“I was very happy with Jordan,” said Watson-Rouslin. “The last time I saw her [in March] she said: ‘I’m going back to North Carolina …I leave tomorrow … you’ll get the official letter in two weeks.’ ”
Watson-Rouslin considers herself lucky that the nurse practitioner got her into a specialist for her upcoming surgery and renewed some of her prescriptions.
She hoped Island Health would find a replacement for Ferrell but instead, the remaining nurse practitioner also left.
She said one locum filling in at the health unit seemed like a perfect fit as a permanent replacement, but when Watson-Rouslin asked, the care provider told her she was already replacing 21 other nurse practitioners on south Vancouver Island.
Meanwhile, the Saanich Peninsula Hospital emergency department is closed overnight until Sept. 4.
Watson-Rouslin is hoping the health unit finds a permanent replacement soon. “They are trying to make do with substitutes, but in my experience, it took five days to return my call.”
An Island Health spokesperson said the nurse practitioners were much loved by patients and many are disappointed to learn of their departures.
For patients who prefer to find a new family physician or nurse practitioner, the health authority suggests registering with HealthLinkBC via healthlinkbc.ca/health-connect-registry/saanich-peninsula.
The registry is intended to connect physicians and nurse practitioners who can take on new patients to those in need of a care provider.
The Health Ministry said this week it is still assessing the capacity for each provider, and expects to report back on connections made between patients and primary care providers quarterly, starting in November. It said it would have a more comprehensive picture of demand and capacity next spring.
Anyone in need of non-emergency health advice can call 811.
For urgent prescription renewals, Island Health advises patients to contact their pharmacist directly, or for minor ailments, patients can book an appointment to see a pharmacist at gov.bc.ca/seeapharmacist or visit any pharmacist for assistance.
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