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B.C. health authority too slow to replace community’s only physician, residents say

Residents of a rural B.C. town believe the local health authority's search for a replacement physician amounts to a prescription for mismanagement.

Logan Lake residents crowded into a Monday night meeting for an update about recruitment of a doctor to replace the community's sole general practitioner, Dr. Uzair Sheik, who is leaving this week and returning to Africa with his family.

For five years, Dr. Sheik was the sole physician in Logan Lake, a mining town of 2,000 people located about 45 minutes southwest of Kamloops.

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One man says the Interior Health Authority has known of the impending departure for months, but hasn't yet hired any part-time doctors to fill the gap until a permanent replacement is found.

Another resident says the lack of action is a slap in the face to the community, noting Logan Lake had three doctors when he moved to the area 11 years ago.

Acting Mayor Robin Smith says the Interior Health Authority has informed her that, as of March 1, the emergency department at the health centre will remain closed because of his departure.

The local nurse practitioner will extend her hours in order to help, making her available for appointments five days a week. Area residents will have to drive 45 minutes to Kamloops or Merritt for medical appointments.

Smith says one doctor has show interest in moving to the community but there is no confirmation they will be filling the void.

Interior Health spokeswoman Bernadine Easson told the meeting that the search for a new physician is underway and the hard work will continue until one is found.

Dr. Sheik says he's sorry to leave, but notes that his role in Logan Lake was a challenge. He and his wife had to adjust to the smaller community, having left behind a large, extended family in Africa.

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They also were challenged with substantially different weather conditions and a 12-hour time difference between B.C. and their home halfway across the world, which made phone calls home a once- or twice-a-month occurrence.

With reports from Kamloops This Week and CHNL radio

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