Interior Health (IH) has confirmed the in-house psychiatrist is leaving the IH Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) team in Williams Lake.
Dr. Sara Meunier, who arrived to work in the lakecity in March of 2020 from Alberta, will no longer be providing psychiatric services in Williams Lake as of Friday, April 1.
In preparation for Dr. Meunier’s departure, IH said MHSU has regular psychiatric services being provided by three other psychiatrists from the Vancouver area.
“They provide a mix of in-person and virtual appointments, with each providing services several days each month.”
IH noted it is continuing recruitment efforts to find an in-house psychiatrist for the community.
“We would like to thank Dr. Meunier for her service,” noted an email response from IH.
The news comes as the city of Williams Lake is calling on the provincial government and health authorities to increase funding and support for mental health services in rural communities.
A resolution penned by the city for consideration at the upcoming North Central Local Government Association convention being held in Fort St. John, May 3 – 6, noted the opioid crisis and homelessness have compounded mental health issues and there needs to be a place to properly discharge patients to access ongoing supports.
“Rural communities have extremely limited options to refer mental health patients for assessment and assistance. Many at-risk people are living on the streets, and self-medicating with opioids and other drugs. A tragic cycle of short-term treatment and discharge without adequate access to follow-up care is negatively impacting communities and placing an untenable burden on our medical professionals.”
City council approved the resolution at its regular meeting Tuesday, March 22.
Coun. Sheila Boehm said the resolution came out of recent meetings she has been attending with local health care providers.