Chase creates citizen task force in hunt for new doctor

A doctor described as tenacious has pulled together some residents of Chase to help recruit another physician.

Dr. Cornel Barnard is leading the charge for a third physician for the town, said Lynne Moyer, who sits on the seven-member recruitment task force.

"It's Dr. Barnard bringing us together. We've never had a doctor take this in hand. He sees the future, that down the way, we need this one more doctor," she said Thursday.

"He's tenacious in his thinking that we will get this done."

Chase has two physicians now, plus a nurse practitioner. A third doctor left last year.

Interior Health puts the ideal number of doctors for the community at three and a half. The village has an emergency room that's open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Barnard said he's asked fellow South African doctors working on the Prairies if they'd like to try out Chase.

He moved from Barriere to Chase and likes the variety of medical cases that come with rural practice. But he doesn't want the load to become overwhelming.

"I just feel the community isn't getting their health care they need or deserve. At the rate we're going at the moment, I'm afraid I'll burn out," he said.

"I got my committee together, I want to recruit and I've explored all the avenues I know. . . . When I'm done with work, I don't have the energy to recruit."

The committee is helping with research, advertising, promotions and getting Interior Health involved, he said.

"We've been short one physician for the last, basically, six months," said Barnard. His goal is to have another doctor in place before the end of June, when tourists converge on the Shuswap by the hundreds.

Rural medicine requires a particular interest on the part of the doctor, but there is a financial incentive as well as the wide range of cases to treat.

He ended up in rural Canada because he wanted to see what the country was about.

"I wanted to travel and see some snow."

Moyer said the task force has joined with Interior Health to post the vacancy so it reaches as many candidates as possible.

Doctors interested in working in Chase can get in touch by calling Barnard's assistant, Sarah Turgeon-O'Brien at 679-1422 or emailing her at

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