Program recruits doctor to Terrace

THE Northern Health Authority has recruited a specialist for Terrace using a financial incentive provided through a provincial government program.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Olajide Kowe, who started in July, is eligible to receive $100,000 if he stays for three years.

Half of that amount was paid when he started working and half will be paid after one year but the entire amount must be repaid if he leaves before the three-year commitment is up.

Kowe is one of nine doctors – and the only specialist – recruited to work in rural B.C. through the program conceived by the provincial government and the BC Medical Association.

“It's all part of the puzzle,” said Steve Raper of the Northern Health Authority of financial incentives to help fill health care gaps in rural and remote B.C.

“But in addition to an incentive, it's also the community that counts in order to get people to stay in a community,” he said.

Kowe's recruitment has increased the level of anesthesia services to the equivalent of 2.5 full time anesthesiologists and the health authority is looking for a combined general practitioner/anesthesiologist to come up to a full complement here.

Also being sought are two internal medicine specialists to be based in Terrace.

The service is now being provided by specialists who rotate in and out of Mills Memorial Hospital and the intent is to continue that rotation even after the two internal medicine specialists are found.

Also on the health authority's recruiting list is one psychiatrist and two family practitioners.

One new family practitioner is to start in January.

At the moment there are 19.5 specialists either based in Terrace or working here on rotation, reflecting the regional service nature of Mills Memorial Hospital.

There are 16 family practitioners.

Unlike other areas in northern B.C., Terrace has always been well-served by physicians and specialists and has not been subjected to the kind of shortages that have been experienced elsewhere, said Raper.

“Terrace has always been a very stable community [for physician supply],” said Raper. “It speaks highly of the community.”

A variety of factors influence the ability of a community to attract and keep physicians, including location, other physicians and existing services, he added.

“But that doesn't mean we can sit back,” Raper continued. “We maintain an active recruiting campaign and are aware of how quickly a situation can change.”

As well, having Mills Memorial accept medical students and medical residents adds to the overall mix in the expectation that physicians trained in the north will want to stay in the north, Raper said.

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