Pemberton Medical Clinic increases service hours

Local clinic also accepting new patients, thanks to a handful of recent hires

Good news for Pemberton residents, especially those who work 9-to-5: the Pemberton Medical Clinic is extending their hours of operation in order to accommodate evening patients.

Beginning Aug. 22, the clinic will remain open until 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday evening, in addition to their regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday hours.

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“We know that there’s a lot of people that work in Whistler and they work all day,” said clinic manager Cielo Mabansag. “The biggest complaint that we get from them is that we’re always closed by the time they’re done working, which is unfortunate, but we also didn’t have enough workers to cover an evening shift. But now we do, so that’s why we’re able to open (an evening clinic) again. There’s been a demand for it, for sure.”

And, to keep the good news coming, every doctor at the practice is currently accepting new patients. “We don’t have a cutoff,” Mabansag said.

Both are exciting moves made possible by hiring enough doctors to fulfill the demand, she explained. “There’s always been a demand, we just didn’t have enough doctors to stay in the evening and be on-call for emergency too. Now that we have six doctors, there’s enough to cover emergency and have at least one doctor working once per week in the evening.”

Dr. Kate Coles, Dr. Will Ho and Dr. Nick Vagelatos were all hired over the course of the past year, joining physicians Dr. Nick Fisher, Dr. Jim Fuller, Dr. Andrew Finnigan to round out the Pemberton Medical Clinic team.

“In Canada in general, it’s not easy to recruit doctors. Especially because when you recruit doctors, you want them to stay in the community… they have to be able to commit to it. In general, there’s just a shortage of doctors. But for some reason, there’s a surge of interest in the Pemberton area,” Mabansag said.

Having a core team of physicians is a pleasant change for the clinic, after years of having some doctors come and go. “Unfortunately that happens to a lot of rural areas, but I think this time we’re hoping everyone will stay. A lot of them bought houses,” she said with a laugh.

However, due to Pemberton’s status as a rural community, these doctors do more than solely operate the shared family practice. They’re also responsible for staffing the emergency room at the Vancouver Coastal Health-operated Pemberton Health Centre.

“In Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler, when you go see your family doctor, they’re in their clinic all day long… But if you’re in emergency,  it’s a totally different group of physicians and they’re only emergency doctors. But to be able to work in a rural community, you have to be able to do work both,” Mabansag explained. “The nearest hospital will be so far, so the family doctors in the community should be able to do emergency. If there’s someone in cardiac arrest, (Pemberton’s doctors) have to be able to take care of them until they go to a higher-care facility.”

In rare instances, this might mean all of the physicians working are pulled out to deal with an emergency. “If somebody’s very sick, it trumps the booked appointment,” Mabansag said, adding that the increased manpower at the clinic should help keep these instances to a minimum, as well.

To book an appointment or inquire about becoming a new patient, call the Pemberton Medical Clinic at 604-894-6454.

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