Peachland residents can look forward to the opening of a local medical clinic on Jan. 23, when Beachside Health plans to welcome its first patients.
The clinic will be operated by Jubi Steinhauer and Sarah Kendrick in the former Beach Avenue Medical Clinic location, which has been vacant for almost four years.
The medical clinic closed its doors back in 2019 when its main doctor retired and the remaining physicians also decided to leave after it became apparent that a new medical director couldn’t be found.
Since then, Peachland residents have had to leave town to see a doctor.
The building is owned by Wes Bedford, who up until his retirement operated the adjacent Peachland Pharmacy.
Bedford has had many opportunities to lease the building over the past four years, but chose to incur the costs necessary to preserve the space as a medical clinic so the primary care needs of the community could be met locally once again. But finding a doctor to run the clinic proved quite difficult, and eventually Wes and Judy Bedford’s daughter Sarah Kendrick and her partner Jubi decided they would take on the challenge.
Kendrick’s main role has been business development and over the past year she’s worked with the health authority to bring health care back to Peachland. When the clinic opens, her partner, Jubi Steinhauer, will be the executive director and manager of the clinic.
The clinic will have a full time nurse in addition to a nurse practitioner, or NP, who will be assigned to them by Interior Health and the Primary Care Network (PCN), of which Beachside Health is now a member.
Kendrick said the nurse practitioner will be able to do just about everything a GP can do with very few limitations.
“They’ll be able to come and serve our community in the same way that a doctor would. So those are the pieces that we’re building on, a nurse and a NP, and we also have a specialist, Dr. Clouatre, an internist and nephrologist who will begin practicing out of the Peachland clinic on Jan. 23, which is the day that the clinic will begin to accept patients,” Kendrick told the View.
Dr. Clouatre is a specialist that deals with diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and a lot of diseases of the elderly, so patients will be referred to him through their GP or NP, says Kendrick.
“He’s such a great fit for our community so we’re really thrilled that he’s coming.”
While the clinic doors will open on Jan. 23, they won’t be accepting new patients until they have a GP or a NP in practice, said Steinhauer, adding that until that happens it’ll be just Dr. Clouatre’s patients that they’ll be able to see.
A nurse has to work under the supervision of a GP or a NP, so once one of those individuals are in place, then the clinic can begin accepting new patients.
Unfortunately, none of the GPs who practiced at Beach Avenue Medical have agreed to return to Peachland, but there are other GPs who have shown interest in coming to the new clinic.
“We are waiting on hopefully some good news with a couple of interested GPs but we haven’t confirmed one yet,” said Kendrick. “We’ll open without a GP is the way that it looks now, but we’re hoping to have a GP in place within the first quarter of the new year. We think it’s really important that people know too that once we have a nurse practitioner here, and we’re hoping that is by January 23, that they can see everything that our community requires as it relates to the scope of practice of an NP. They do family practice. They do primary care. So I think some people are confused about the role of a NP and they can maybe pair that NP to be more like a nurse but actually that NP is more like a GP. So that’s important for people to realize that they can come and receive primary care from a nurse practitioner.”
Once a NP and GP are in place, the goal is to build a primary care practice so that there are at least three clinicians who are able to serve the primary care needs of Peachland. After that, they hope to add on other pieces, including foot care, physiotherapy, chiropractors, or rotating specialists coming through, in addition to a registered massage therapist who currently operates out of the location and will continue to have her practice in the clinic after it opens.
‘Primary care is the focus, because that’s what we really need. These other pieces of allied health we would add in the future,” said Steinhauer.
In the meantime, Kendrick, Steinhauer, a nurse and returning medical office assistant (MOA) Kim Gregory will be working in the clinic throughout the early part of January in preparation for the opening.
The nurse practitioner position is still posted on the healthmatchbc.org recruiting site and Kendrick believes Interior Health are still actively receiving applications for that role.
The new medical clinic operators are asking Peachland residents to hold off on phoning the clinic until they are ready to accept patients.
“We would just ask people to be understanding that we are doing everything we can to get it up and running and it may be a slow start in 2023, but it will happen,” said Steinhauer.
Once a NP or GP is in place, the clinic will be reaching out to those who have signed up on their list of people wanting to visit the clinic. Residents with patient requests, inquiries or a wish to be added to the list are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org.