A GAP in medical services has now been filled with the arrival of Dr. Ivan Jardine who opens an ear, nose and throat practice here this week.
From South Africa, Jardine fills a spot left vacant when Dr. Lodewyk DeJager moved to Vancouver Island several years ago.
Arranging for the arrival of Jardine went fairly quickly after he applied to come to the northwest, says Dr. Geoff Appleton, the Northern Health Authority’s medical director for the region.
“His office is in the old credit union building,” added Appleton because there’s no suitable space in the medical complex on Park Ave.
Once Jardine is settled in, there’s a possibility he’ll offer outreach services in Kitimat or even Prince Rupert, Appelton said.
“Kitimat certainly has expressed an interest in having him do some clinics or perhaps even a bit of surgery and Prince Rupert has said it could use more [ear, nose and throat services],” he said. “A lot of that will be up to Dr. Jardine as he gets established.”
Although Terrace and area was able to secure the services of a visiting ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Heitham Gheriani, after DeJager left, there is a backlog of referrals and surgeries, warned Appleton.
“It’s significant. It’s going to take awhile to get through those,” he said.
As for other medical matters, Appleton said Terrace could use a few more general practitioners but that the situation is far from the crisis level being experienced in other rural and remote areas.
“Kitimat could use some more, Hazelton is struggling, Prince Rupert’s OK and Smithers is just fine,” he said.
And there is a need for more psychiatrists in Terrace in that Mills Memorial Hospital contains a psychiatric unit used by the area.
One encouraging sign is the interest being show in living and working here by UNBC/UBC medical school graduates.
“I’d say we’ve had what I would call half-nibbles,” said Appleton.
“We’ve had people interested in doing locums here and that’s usually a very good sign. We’re hoping these will turn into full nibbles,” he added.
The expectation that people trained in the north would stay in the north was one of the foundation reasons for establishing a UBC satellite medical school at the Prince George UNBC campus in the first place.
In addition, northern hospitals have also served as training centres for medical students and those who have received medical degrees but are not yet fully certified.
Mills Memorial in Terrace, for example, can take up to four third-year medical students, two first-year residents and two second-year residents.