The Spruce Medical Centre, Terrace’s newest general practitioners clinic, has officially opened for business. While most of the doctors practicing here have migrated from the Park Avenue Medical Clinic, a new part-time physician will soon be accepting a limited number of new patients.
“People are going to have to be patient with us,” Dr. Mariette de Bruin said. “They think new clinic equals new doctors, but it’s going to take a few months to get to capacity.”
While not a walk-in clinic by definition, de Bruin said she and the other doctors will accept as many appointments as possible from unattached patients. “We recognize there’s a huge number of people without a family physician so we will have capacity to serve those unattached patients,” she said.
Appointments can be made by phone from 8 a.m. until the slots are full. Patients are not required to line up outside.
Two more doctors are scheduled to start at the clinic in August and September, one of whom is new to the area and therefore available to fill a full roster of new patients.
De Bruin estimates full-time doctors will attach themselves to around 1,000 patients each.
The new medical centre is welcome relief to an area where an estimated 10,000 people are without a family physician.
In addition to Spruce Medical, a second practice, the HG Health Centre with Dr. Herman Greef, is expected to open late summer.
With the exception of the Lazelle Ave. Medical Clinic which opened last year and which is regarded as an overflow clinic to the existing practices at the Park Ave. Medical Centre for people lacking a family doctor, the two new locations mark a departure from what happened 22 years ago when physicians in Terrace consolidated their practices in the purpose-built Park Ave. location.
On a broad scale, the plan is for the new clinics to be staffed by existing Terrace physicians and new ones to the community, the latter being the result of a concentrated recruitment campaign by Northern Health to overcome the critical shortage of family physicians.
De Bruin said before work crews could finish interior renovations people had started lining up outside the clinic for an appointment, several days before the official June 1 opening.
“It just shows you the level of despair, that they’re so in need of a family doctor,” de Bruin said.
Contact Spruce Medical Centre at 778-634-2525 or visit their website at sprucemed.ca.