July 25, 2024

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Health and business partners work together to recruit health care professionals to Chilliwack | Fraser Valley Today

The division says approximately 2,000 additional residents managed to sign up with their own family doctor in 2023 compared to 2022; however, Chilliwack’s ever-growing population has likely absorbed those gains. Moreover, there are barriers to attracting permanent and temporary doctors and healthcare workers to smaller communities, but a major obstacle involves a lack of short-term housing.

To keep Chilliwack competitive, the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice, Chilliwack Medical Staff Association, Fraser Health Authority, Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation, and Algra Bros. Developments collaborated to create the “Essential Healthcare Workers Accommodation Program.” It’s an initiative meant to attract new healthcare workers from elsewhere and to support current healthcare providers working in Chilliwack.

The program consists of short-term accommodation for those who provide medical leave and vacation coverage, emergency coverage for understaffed areas, as well as accommodation for healthcare workers considering relocating to Chilliwack. For those eligible, the program offers a furnished condominium for $50 per night close to the hospital, on a first-come, first-served basis, a much cheaper alternative to hotels or accommodations at Airbnb and Vrbo.

Since the program launched two months ago, it has been used by pediatric, internal medicine, and psychiatry specialist doctors who have come to Chilliwack to fill shifts that would otherwise have remained vacant and resulted in gaps in healthcare coverage. Gaps in care can result in increased wait times for patients, increased visits to the Chilliwack General Hospital emergency department, and potentially poorer health outcomes.

“Accessible and reasonably priced accommodation helps draw new doctors into our community where they can experience the city and its amazing surroundings, meet potential colleagues, and envision having a medical practice in Chilliwack,” said Dr. Allison Salter of the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice. “Ultimately, through the combined efforts of local health and business partners, the program’s aim is to positively impact Chilliwack’s recruitment and retention ability and provide for reliable access to health services for the community’s residents.”

The division says the emergence of the accommodation program demonstrates the power of creative community collaboration in developing homegrown healthcare solutions.