The Thompson Region Family Obstetrics clinic is facing challenges with medical staff recruitment and may close
Interior Health said it is working on solutions to the maternity services crisis that is afflicting the Kamloops area.
The Thompson Region Family Obstetrics (TRFO) clinic in Royal Inland Hospital is facing challenges with medical staff recruitment. As a result, it is not accepting patients with due dates beyond July 31 and may be forced to close.
The clinic is responsible for between 50 and 60 of the approximate 100 babies born each month at RIH. According to the Thompson Region Division of Family Practice, the clinic has a team of five doctors, two registered midwives, a registered nurse and medical office assistants. They serve between 500 and 600 families annually.
Demand for the clinic has increased as smaller regional operations have also lost doctors, including in Barriere, Lillooet, 100 Mile House and Merritt, all of which used to do deliveries. Because of that, TRFO has had a no-referral-refused policy for a number of years.
But in 2019, what remained in Kamloops started to fall apart due to retirements and doctors leaving the field, according to Dr. Shaun Davis, one of the three physicians who remain at the clinic that has been struggling to fill its vacancies since.
“In all honesty, we’re struggling to cover our call already and with only the remaining doctors, it’s going to be a pretty brutal six months to get us to July 31,” Davis said.
Some doctors have expressed interest in doing locums (temporary work) in Kamloops, but Davis said long-term solutions are needed.
In the past 13 years, the number of family physicians in Kamloops providing obstetrical care has plummeted to three from 21 — and about 40,000 of Kamloops’ 100,000 residents are without family doctors. As a result, prenatal patient caseloads have increased significantly.