Elkford and Sparwood put up $2,500 each to fund a promotional video to attract physicians to the area. (Image courtesy of Interior Health)

Elkford and Sparwood put up $2,500 each to fund a promotional video to attract physicians to the area. (Image courtesy of Interior Health)

Re-opening emergency dept. in Elkford a priority, but no timeline yet: IHA

Elkford currently has openings for physicians, while Sparwood is expected to be fully-staffed by August next year

Interior Health (IHA) has reported that it expects a new physician to be working between the Elkford – Sparwood health clinics within nine months.

“(IHA) anticipate a new physician who will be working in Elkford/Sparwood in August of 2022,” said a spokesperson.

“This will result in Sparwood having a full complement of physicians, while we continue to work to recruit an additional physician in Elkford. IHA has also hired a permanent full-time primary care registered nurse, who started on November 29, 2021.”

Currently, the Elkford Health Centre is down on the equivalent of one and a quarter doctors, with only a three-quarter-time physician posted there. It has two full-time positions. Additionally, the Emergency Department in Elkford has been shut since September, when the district lost an emergency care nurse.

READ MORE: Elkford Health Centre emergency department closed until further notice

“Re-opening the Elkford Emergency Department remains a priority for Interior Health, however we have not confirmed a re-opening date at this time,” said the IHA spokesperson.

In Sparwood, the Primary Health Centre there is currently down by a half-time position. Sparwood’s clinic has enough work for three full-time physicians. According to Interior Health, two of the part-time doctors that worked at Elkford (sharing work there) transferred to Sparwood.

“The Sparwood Medical Clinic is welcoming the addition of Dr. Randy Holmes and Dr. Claire Hirst,” said the spokesperson.

“Dr. Holmes and Dr. Hirst are well-known in the Elk Valley and will be taking over Dr. (Christopher) Unger’s practice. Former patients of Dr. Unger will be automatically transferred over to Dr. Holmes and Dr. Hirst. Any previous patients of Dr. Holmes or Dr. Hirst will become patients of the Elkford Medical Clinic.” Dr. Unger transferred out of the area.

According to the Mayor of Elkford, Dean McKerracher, the community has about 1,200 patients without a physician due to the lack of doctors there.

READ MORE: Not much doc: Elkford, Sparwood seek extra physicians

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