Doctor shortage being tackled by CF

Lt(N) Jodylynn Dans gives Cpl Rhonda Tiekenheinrich a check up

Military doctor Lt(N) Jodylynn Dans gives Cpl Rhonda Tiekenheinrich a check up at the Base Clinic.

The lack of family doctors in Canada has had a direct impact on Canadian Forces families across the country.

The shortage has become such a concern for military leadership that finding a solution has been made a priority.

“We have a lot of families, many of whom are in the point in their life when they’re having children, or are raising young kids that have health care requirements,” says LCol Nick Withers, Pacific Formation Surgeon. “We want them to have the care they need.”

A 2011 study called “An Examination of Canadian Forces Spouses’ Access to a Family Physician” determined that 27 percent of Canadian Forces families do not have a primary care physician compared to the national average of 16 percent (StatsCan 2010).  LCol Withers says this is because of the transient lifestyle inherent to CF families.

“Many CF families will move every few years to another posting,” he says. “Because of this it’s all but impossible for many to get to the top of a family doctor waitlist, and it’s a concern that their health will suffer as a result.”

To combat the shortage, Health Services and the National Defence have been working with the national medical community to find a solution.

“We want to work out a way to expedite the process for CF families, since the shortage affects a much higher percentage than the average population,” says LCol Withers. “We’ve had some good feedback so far from medical professionals. Hopefully we can come to an agreement.”

LCol Withers says one proposed solution would be a “save-the-space” type of plan, wherein if a CF family on a waiting list were deployed another CF family could take their place on the list.

“It would help get CF families the care they need without impacting the local community too much,” he says.

Health Services Centre (Pacific) has also been working with local practices to see if any have space and are willing to take on CF families.

“We’ve got 250 military families in Victoria alone looking for medical care, so at this point anything will help.”
Going forward, LCol Withers remains optimistic CF families will find the care they need.

“We already have a few practices on board in Victoria,” he says. “If we can spread the word to doctors across the country I think we’ll see a real change.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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  1. Mike Collet says:

    Take the money DND pays for Brookfield and re-allocate these funds to put more Dr’s on staff Coast to Coast

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