Greater Victoria’s walk-in clinic waits longest in six provinces, survey finds

The capital region has the longest average wait times for walk-in clinics in six provinces, ranging from 1 1/2 to three hours, according to a company that provides wait-time information for participating clinics in those provinces.

At three hours, Sidney had the highest average wait time, according to medimap.ca, which has an online site and app where people can check wait times before heading to a clinic.

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“People in Sidney are struggling to access care, clearly,” said Medimap CEO Blake Adam.

The B.C.-based company, which provides wait times for about 80 per cent of the province’s walk-in clinics, gathered statistics on wait times from Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2019.

Sidney’s wait-time information was based on data collected from Shoreline Medical Clinic and the only other walk-in clinic in the area, which closed in August 2018.

Walk-in clinics in Sidney, Langford and Victoria had average wait times of 180 minutes, 117 minutes and 92 minutes respectively.

Of the top 10 cities with the longest average wait times in Canada, seven are in British Columbia, including four on Vancouver Island, according to Medimap’s survey.

On average, British Columbians wait twice as long to see a doctor at walk-in clinics, about 50 minutes, as Albertans, who wait an average of 23 minutes, according to the survey.

Nanaimo, with an average wait time of 82 minutes, is also in the top 10 for longest average waits among the six provinces. Other top-10 contenders from B.C. are Maple Ridge at 91 minutes, Williams Lake at 80 minutes and Pitt Meadows at 75 minutes.

Adam, a University of Victoria business school graduate, and former partner Jonathan Clark, a software engineer, started medimap.ca in White Rock in 2015. It was offered in Greater Victoria in the spring of 2016.

Shawna Walker, executive director of the Shoreline Medical Society, said wait times in Sidney have probably dropped since the Medimap data were gathered. In response to high demand, Shoreline Medical clinic expanded this year to double its physical size and offer two doctors each day and one on Saturdays.

The expanded clinic opened in September.

The Shoreline walk-in clinics in Sidney and Brentwood see 27,500 visits a year, said Walker.

In Ontario, Kingston showed the longest average wait times, but was only ninth overall among the six provinces, well behind Sidney, Langford, Victoria and Nanaimo.

The online service is used in B.C. (average wait time is 50  minutes), Ontario (25 minutes), Saskatchewan (37 minutes), Nova Scotia (69 minutes), Manitoba (29 minutes) and Alberta (23 minutes).

“The fact that clinic wait times are as bad as they are and don’t seem to be getting better makes our service all that more useful,” said Adam.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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