The Port McNeill Medical Clinic has lost another doctor. (Port McNeill Medical Clinic photo)

The Port McNeill Medical Clinic has lost another doctor. (Port McNeill Medical Clinic photo)

Departing doctor cuts Port McNeill staffing in half, raises questions about clinic’s future

What does the future hold for healthcare in Port McNeill?

Port McNeill is losing another doctor.

Dr. Joy Mijares announced she will be departing from the Port McNeill Medical Clinic at the end of May, leaving the community with only one doctor on staff and a rotating crew of visiting physicians who will fill in when needed.

“This decision has been prompted by the insurmountable difficulty of maintaining a viable medical practice within present conditions,” she said. “With only two physicians and some visiting locums, we have kept the hospital and emergency services open 24/7 for the past year, in addition to remote clinic visits and virtual and phone consults.

“This amount of work is unsustainable in the long run.”

She added that with her departure, she thinks keeping the hospital ER and inpatient services staffed with a doctor will be challenging.

“I expect that the Island Health Authority have plans to address this.”

Dr. Prean Armogam owns the Port McNeill Medical Clinic and has been at odds with Island Health for more than five years, fighting for a model change to ensure equality with neighbouring towns.

RELATED: The Port McNeill Medical Clinic closes services, then reopens the next day

Armogam said via news release that Mijares’ departure no doubt leaves people concerned about their ongoing care with many questions unanswered.

“The staff and two doctors [himself and Mijares] at the clinic have worked tirelessly for nearly a year to ensure the continuity of your care, despite the pandemic. The impact on the hospital has also been significant.”

Armogam says all he wants is “to mirror the model in Port Hardy to better recruit physicians and thereby create a sustainable physician complement to serve the needs of our town and other areas that depend on us. This ask was again made clear in June last year highlighting the impact to existing health services that was imminent. The ask was only answered after considerable collective efforts from our mayor and other community leaders, including some of the remote First Nation communities we care for.”

Island Health is scheduled to meet with Port McNeill council on Thursday (Feb. 18) at 2 p.m to discuss the next step. The meeting will be held in-camera (private) so residents won’t be able to watch.

“The clinic has not been included in any discussions and is unaware of Island Health’s proposal,” stated Armogam. “It is not known if there will be any transition with our existing patients, clinic or staff in this model change which has made our planning for your continued care needs very difficult.”

Armogam is planning to continue to provide services from the clinic three days per week “until Island Health’s plan is in place and patients can safely transition over to a new provider.”

He added he wants to ensure a smooth transition “of your care to the new model should Island Health choose to engage. Island Health will be responsible for continued ER services from May 1.”

When asked to comment, Island Health stated the Port McNeill Medical Clinic is “a privately owned and operated clinic, independent from Island Health. Physicians are independent business people who choose where they want to locate their medical practice… While Island Health is not responsible for recruiting physicians into private practice, we have been supporting recruitment efforts to bring additional physicians to the community for some time.”

Island Health also noted that for several months, it has been exploring options to support and stabilize the future of primary care, emergency, and inpatient services for the residents of Port McNeill.

“This includes both short-term options, and long-term planning. The challenge of recruiting medical practitioners to rural and remote communities is not unique to Port McNeill, the Island Health region, or even B.C. We look forward to engaging with local leaders and the broader community to support a full community approach to recruitment, an approach which has proven successful in other jurisdictions.”

Island Health added it is also working collaboratively with the First Nations Health Authority to support the First Nations communities whose primary care needs were supported by the Port McNeill Medical Clinic.

There have been rumours that Island Health is poised to announce a new primary care clinic built next door to the Port McNeill Hospital, but neither Island Health or Port McNeill council could confirm.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

Debra Lynn photo
Mysterious smoke cloud seen in Seavac Centre

Fire crews did a thorough sweep of the centre.

North Island Gazette file photo of Port McNeill council.
Heated conversation occurs at Port McNeill council over policy request

Port McNeill mayor Gaby Wickstrom wants to see a change in the… Continue reading

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
The Port Alice pulp mill site is being ‘recycled’

Bankruptcy company is overseeing de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring.

Port Hardy Senior Citizens’ Society president Rosaline Glynn holds up the certificate from B.C. Premier John Horgan next to Loaves & Fishes director Peter Sinclair, vice president Kris Huddlestan, and Port Hardy mayor Dennis Dugas. (Submitted photo)
Port Hardy council to nominate Glynn for the Order of British Columbia

Glynn’s nomination was endorsed unanimously by council.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is administered to a personal support worker at the Ottawa Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 in Ottawa. Doctors in Alberta have signed an open letter asking for prioritized vaccination of health-care staff who work directly with patients on dedicated COVID-19 units. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID vaccines for seniors in B.C.: Here’s how to sign up

Seniors 90+, Indigenous seniors 65+ and Indigenous Elders can book starting March 8

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Most Read