Patients seeking medical help are swamping the city's two open walk-in clinics as the third one is being renovated from flooding last week.
The Northshore Treatment Centre and Summit Medical Clinic reported long lineups of people waiting for the doors to open in the morning. And even then, some are being turned away.
Tammy Muench. medical office assistant at the North Shore clinic, said Tuesday the only doctor working there for the morning was fully booked within half an hour of the door being unlocked.
"We're absolutely swamped," she said.
A week ago Tuesday, the Kamloops Urgent Care Clinic in Sahali was shut after water soaked the office floors and even some equipment. It could be closed for two to three weeks as repairs are done.
That clinic usually treats 80 patients a day — putting 80 in search of somewhere else to get medical help. The other two walk-in clinics fill up during the morning, but are being overwhelmed with demand from additional patients.
The other option is to wait it out at Royal Inland Hospital's emergency department, where 160 to 180 people are treated on a regular day.
Some of the patients who are lining up in the morning do have family physicians, Muench said. She didn't know why some patients wouldn't be going to their regular doctors, although it might be a wait to get in.
Her clinic is short on doctors this week, which adds to the pressure. There was no doctor Tuesday afternoon, and wouldn't be on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning.
She faxed two requests to the RIH ER in search of doctors willing to help out with a half-day shift, but had no reply. The doctors who staff the Urgent Care Clinic also work in the ER.
Muench said all she can do when there are too many patients is turn them away or refer them to the hospital.
"People are upset. I just apologize and that's all you can do, really," she said.
"They want to know where to go. They want to book an appointment for tomorrow but we don't do that."
The doctor at her clinic was putting in extra time Tuesday to try to squeeze in as many patients as possible.
At the Summit Medical Clinic, medical office assistant Heather Turner was too busy to talk about how busy she was.
Patients were lined up when she arrived at 8 a.m. and last Friday she spent a lot more time than usual on registering people.
"We're run off our feet," she said.
While there are complicating factors that make it difficult for the Urgent Care Clinic doctors to set up a temporary spot — lab tests need to go back somewhere, patient files are still on the wet office computers — she said they would be welcome at Summit. Especially on weekends, when staffing can be down to one doctor.
"We would be happy if any of them wanted to come in," she said.
Marg Brown, administrator at Royal Inland Hospital, said there has been no significant increase in the number of people showing up at the emergency room.
Extra staff were brought in over the weekend, and the situation is being monitored day by day, she said.