Ucluelet's only family medical clinic prepares to shut down

An eleventh-hour push is on to save the only family medical practice in Ucluelet, B.C.

The family doctor who owns the Ucluelet Medical Clinic doesn't plan to renew the lease, which ends on May 31.

Dr. Carrie Marshall says she's crunched the numbers alone – and with the help of consultants – and she says there's nowhere else to cut from the clinic's overhead costs.

The clinic's been short $80,000 over the last few years, despite having more than double the number of patients than the town's population.

"You know, you can't get blood from a stone," said Marshall on Monday. "There's really no way of us seeing more patients to make this work."

The clinic says it's been hit by inflation, rising costs for rent and supplies, and wage increases for employees.

Since the fee that doctor's can make per patient is set by the province, there's no way for the clinic to keep up with the costs of operation.

"We need a better way to support or incentivise this, which is so critical and crucial to the way healthcare is run in B.C.," said Marshall.

The good news is talks have been underway with the province and Island Health for months to try to save the clinic.

"There's a lot of out-of-towners that use Ucluelet as their clinic as well," said Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noel.

Marshall feels confident a solution will be found. But, the community's mayor is frustrated by the lack of movement so far.

"For me it's not really an option of it shutting down," said Noel.

"Quite frankly here we're at D-Day and nothing has come to light so obviously the municipality is going to have to step in in some way to make sure that the service continues on," he said.

The situation adds another voice to the chorus of family doctors who've been saying that B.C. needs a better healthcare structure amid a shortage of physicians.

In this case, the clinic's owner wants to see a subsidy to keep overhead costs reasonable so she doesn't have to stress about the bottom line.

CTV News reached out to the B.C. government for comment but did not receive a response by publication.