The City of Williams Lake has signed a memorandum of understanding with Central Interior Rural Division (CIRD) of Family Practice.
Before signing it during Tuesday’s regular council meeting, CIRD chair Dr. Bruce Nicolson said the non-profit organization represents doctors in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Tatla Lake.
Formed in April 2012, they are trying to improve outcomes for the people in the communities the doctors represent.
“We are trying to ensure there is good primary care available to all citizens and that everybody that needs to have a family physician is able to have one,” Nicolson said.
Since its inception, CIRD has been trying to work with other community groups, and at the moment is focused on trying to recruit enough new physicians to replace those who are looking toward retirement.
“We formed this MOU with yourselves hoping you will join us in our efforts to recruit and retain doctors. We have a similar MOU with 100 Mile House,” Nicolson said.
Executive director Trevor Barnes told council there are 47 physicians who belong to the organization, which is just about all of the general practitioners in the area.
“We are working on a number of projects and initiatives,” Barnes said, adding they have a contract with the regional hospital district, which partially funds the recruitment and retention program.
With a formal relationship, it is hoped the city will participate in the program, helping to convince doctors to stay and practice in Williams Lake.
Nicolson said they have a number of projects with First Nations and the newest one involves a tele-health set up in more remote communities.
“As you are aware some of those communities are several hours drive from Williams Lake and 100 Mile House,” Nicolson said. “We are probably the first division in the province to set up a formal relationship and partnership with First Nations Health Authority and it has been very rewarding working with them.”
Given the population of the region, the goal is to have 60-plus primary health care physicians, Nicolson said.