The man at the centre of the sometimes-painful and still ongoing transition of medical care in Port McNeill says good progress is being made toward a better situation for all involved.
In an update issued to the Gazette on Wednesday (Sept. 29), Dr. Prean Armogam said the move to an Island Health owned-and-operated clinic model is something local medical professionals have been advocating for, for many years.
“It is so good to see progress being made,” he said. “I have informed Island Health that I remain very committed to helping support new physicians. I am pleased to see that Dr. Anas Toweir has arrived and I feel confident that he will serve you well. I encourage you to see him and any of the new permanent physicians that are recruited to our area.”
Armogam said his workload has been unmanageable in recent years due to a lack of physicians in Port McNeill, and it had been affecting his own health.
He said he plans to cut back his hours, but continue working in order to help Island Health attract new physicians to serve and staff the new clinic and the hospital,
“I need to reduce my work, but I still want to be able to provide some medical services to our communities,” he confirmed.
It was back in December of 2020 when Armogam originally announced the closure of his privately owned Port McNeill Medical Collaborative Clinic due to a “lack of support” from Island Health. After receiving feedback from the residents of the community over the decision, the clinic quickly reopened.
Island Health, realizing there was a serious doctor shortage in the town, started taking key step towards sustaining primary care in Port McNeill by establishing a health authority owned and operated clinic.
Over the next couple of years, Dr. Armogam is hoping to provide medical care to a reduced number of patients by working one or two days per week in a clinic in Port McNeill.
“In addition to occasional emergency room shifts at the hospital, I am hoping to be able to care for patients in hospital as part of the medical staff. I am going to continue my other clinic work in Sointula, Woss, Zeballos and Rivers Inlet as I do at present.”
He pointed out that now that Dr. Toweir has arrived, he is going to be away for the month of October “simply to recharge and to visit my family. We have arranged for additional locum coverage for some of the weeks that I will be away.”
At present, Port McNeill is home to two separate clinics under the same roof.
“Which I know can be confusing,” he said. “The private clinic that you have known as the Port McNeill Medical Clinic will cease as of Dec. 31, while the new Island Health clinic will continue. To ensure a safe transition of your care, I may work as part of the new clinic or set up another private clinic elsewhere in Port McNeill in early 2022. We are working out the logistics of all that and I ask for your patience during the next few months.”
Armogam stated he believes it is a good idea for Toweir and other permanent doctors to have access to the medical records of his patients.
“If you wish to be seen by the new doctors you will be asked for your consent to have your records transferred which I would be happy to do at no charge,” he said.
Dr. Armogam concluded by stating he wanted to thank everyone for their loyalty and support during these trying times.
“I remain committed to following the path I began in Port McNeill over 15 years ago; a family doctor who lives and works here on the North Island. As part of our community, I will continue to provide the level of care you deserve. I look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with Island Health to attract and retain more physicians to the region to help with your medical care.”