The District of Sicamous is taking over the operation of the community’s medical clinic.
The municipal government will be taking over management and administration of the Sicamous Medical Clinic on Finlayson Street starting June 1.
Dr. Jack Beech, who has been Sicamous’ only full-time physician for years, plans to retire this summer. Efforts have been underway to fill the void Beech will leave. The district plans to acquire Beech’s business, taking it from a physician-operated clinic to a community health centre. The district will handle the hiring of staff, medical services plan billing and other administration work such as payroll.
The district has owned the Finlayson Street building where Beech’s office is located since 2017.
A statement from the District of Sicamous expressed the community’s appreciation for Beech and the work he has done over decades as a doctor in the community.
Dr. Carol Connick will continue seeing patients at the clinic as she has since 2019. She will be joined by Dr. Saad Alam who plans to join the clinic full time beginning July 19.
Doctor recruitment is a big part of why the district is taking over management of the health centre. Malcolm Makayev and Colleen Anderson, the Sicamous councillors overseeing health-care matters, said doctors are looking for a turnkey solution that allows them to practise medicine with administrative matters taken care of.
The district plans to handle support staff and office administration allowing the doctors at the clinic to focus on medicine.
Makayev said medical amenities are also high on the list of concerns for families looking to relocate to a different community.
Anderson said most doctors are no longer interested in owning their own medical centre as Dr. Beech and his wife Pam have for years. Makayev said the district has been in discussions to buy the clinic from the Beeches for years but have remained willing to be flexible with Jack’s retirement plans.
Makayev and Anderson hope to bring in a nurse practitioner to work at the clinic, and remain open to bringing in another full-time doctor.
In future, the district will look to relocate the medical clinic to the Shuswap Healing Centre building they plan to construct on Main Street. Makayev said they will also apply to have the clinic designated as a Community Health Centre through Interior Health, which will allow it to bring in more revenue.
Revenue from the clinic, and the costs of purchasing and running it, were discussed in detail at the district’s Feb. 24 finance committee meeting. Sicamous’ chief financial officer Kelly Bennett presented a draft budget which showed a $283,450 expenditure for the health centre in 2021.
Bennett said she arrived at the projected expenditures by speaking with the director of a community health centre in Kamloops and viewing the Beeches’ financial information from previous years. She said the five year projection, which shows the clinic running a a deficit through 2025, contains very conservative estimates about the amount of money it could bring in. She said it is hoped they can do better than the projected revenue, allowing the clinic to break even within three years.