Renovations to the Kamloops Urgent Care Clinic won't be completed for at least two weeks, meaning the long lineups and wait times at the city's two other drop-in clinics will not ease any time soon.
The Sahali care clinic closed Feb. 5 after water soaked the office floors and some equipment.
On average, physicians at Northshore Treatment Centre see about 80 patients a day while staff at the Summit Medical Clinic cares for about 50. Since the Sahali clinic closed, those numbers have dramatically increased as patients seek help elsewhere.
Staff at both clinics told The Daily News on Thursday many people are turned away once a physician has reached a regulated limit of 50 patients per shift. Some people seeking medical help have booked a drop-in time a day in advance.
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.
The Daily News visited the Northshore and Summit clinics Thursday and asked patients and staff how the closure has affected them directly.
Dacia Finley, medical office assistant, Summit Medical Clinic: It's insane. It has been since last Wednesday when (the flood) happen. That day we were full by 10:10 a.m. and it was like that right up until 6 p.m. And it's pretty much been the same since. We're full for today (Thursday) and we've got five doctors working. They can see 50 patients a day and they are full.
Kyle Wolff, patient: I'm getting documentation done so I can go back to work at Highland Valley Copper (after suffering a broken ankle). I should basically be in and out in five minutes, but I'm two hours behind now. We got here at 8:30 a.m. and there were 20 people in line before the clinic opened. That's just to get in the door. My wife stood in line for me so I could come back between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. and get in by 1 p.m.
Tammy Muench, medical office assistant, Northshore Treatment Centre: We'll see about 85 people today. We definitely have some new people that have come from up on the hill. It's a little bit crazier. Plus the last two days we only had a doctor for the morning, not the afternoon. So we had to turn away a lot of people. From what we know, we can expect this to go on for a couple more weeks.
Dan Hermann, patient: I called (Wednesday) and they said come at noon. I'm here for a follow-up for WorkSafe B.C. so I can get a sign-off to go back to work. There are no family doctors available, so I'm forced to do it this way. I've lived here for a year and I can't get a doctor. I've come to this clinic before and it hasn't been like this. I'm usually in and out within an hour, for the most part. Or they let me know when to come back and I'm right in.
Courtney Daly, patient: I've got a sore throat. It's really swollen. I'm here to get some antibiotics. Something. Anything. I have a doctor, but I don't want to wait two weeks to see him. He's booked solid. I've missed a lot of classes (at Thompson Rivers University) because of this. I want to get it dealt with. It would be nice to be able to get right in because I'm just sitting here feeling crappy with everyone.
Gail Love, registered nurse, Northshore Treatment Centre: It's been busy. Yesterday (Wednesday) we were turning patients away. All the patients who were lined up couldn't be seen. By 9:30 a.m. we were full for the morning, and that's not usual. Normally, as long as somebody is able to register by noon, we have room. Some times we still have room by 2 p.m. or 3 p.m.
Eleanor Atchison, patient: I booked an appointment yesterday because I wanted to see a specific doctor (at Summit Medical Clinic). There are long lineups, but it's moving steady. I don't find it any longer than when you make an appointment and have to sit and wait. Would it be good to have more doctors and more clinics? Everything would be better.
Adrian Verenca, patient: It's very busy. I came here (Wednesday) afternoon and they were full. I'm just fighting a flu and want antibiotics. So I came back (Thursday) at noon and they told me to come back around 5 p.m. It has an impact; the fact the other clinic is closed. It's an inconvenience, but it's a small town and there is a shortage of doctors. I've been fighting this flu for a month now. I have to try to get rid of it and, to do that, I need a prescription.
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FLOOD HASN'T CLOSED TRAVEL CLINIC
The Kamloops Urgent Care Clinic is closed, but a travel vaccination centre that shares the building remains open.
Cathi Marshall, medical office assistant for Travel Medicine and Vaccination Centre, said Thursday the flood that temporarily shut the care clinic only damaged one of two offices in the travel centre.
“The flood cut us back to one nurse instead of two,” said Marshall. “A lot of people think we aren’t open because of what happened, but that isn’t true.”
The centre specializes in providing vaccinations and related medical services to travellers heading to tropical and developing countries, as well as seasonal vaccinations and occupational health services.
“We do vaccines for people who are travelling and immunizations for everyone,” said Marshall.
There are 18 of the privately owned and operated clinics in B.C. Doctors and nurses with a broad range of experience and interest in travel medicine staff each.
For more information, visit www.tmvc.com. The Kamloops Urgent Care Clinic is expected to re-open within a couple of weeks.