By Loreth Beswetherick
Whistler’s Creekside will see a new medical clinic open doors early next month.
Dr. Tom DeMarco, one of the five doctors who run a family practise and drop-in clinic out of the Whistler Health Care Centre, has formed a partnership with Dr. Adam Kendall from Arizona. Together they have agreed to purchase Dr. Ernie Ledgerwood’s practise. Tuesday, Nov. 2 will be their first day of business out of the new premises.
DeMarco said he will retain his practise in the village. Initially the Creekside clinic will be operated independently but DeMarco said he hasn’t ruled out a more formal association with the Whistler Medical Clinic. "My partners have expressed interest in some sort of merger or some sort of co-operative management. I am interested in that but we are going to wait and see." He said the clinic could become a satellite of the village operation.
"We certainly want to remain on friendly terms with all the doctors in the valley. In the past, historically, there have been some divisions," he said. "We are hoping that Creekside, if not actually merged with the Whistler Medical Clinic, will feel more like part of the medical community here."
DeMarco said Dr. Kendall is well-known to the community. He spent three years in Whistler as a locum.
"He was very popular in both the emergency room as well as the family clinic offices," said DeMarco. "He grew up spending a lot of time in Whistler and he is looking forward to the opportunity to get back here." Kendall has spent the last three years practising in Arizona. "He is one of the few doctors coming back from the States," said DeMarco. "That says something about Whistler anyway."
The Creekside offices will be renovated in the first few weeks of operation. Kendall will be the primary doctor at the new practise. DeMarco will work out of Creekside a few days a week while not reducing his hours at the Whistler Medical Clinic. He plans to bring locums in over the busy winter period. "By Christmas time we are expecting a third doctor."
The Creekside practise will be open for both walk-ins and appointments until 8 p.m. at least one evening a week. Depending on response, the evening service may be expanded. "No place in the valley is offering this so far," said DeMarco. The Whistler Medical Clinic closes at 5:30 p.m.
The Creekside practise will also offer house calls for private patients. "This is mostly a tourist luxury — to have a doctor come to their suite. It’s a luxury they pay for because the MSP fee schedule doesn’t really provide for that." DeMarco himself has been offering this service for the last three winters, mostly to hotels. He said the Chateau Whistler, for example, has high demand for house calls.
There are currently five family doctors at the Whistler Medical Clinic, six in the emergency room rotation and two doctors at the Town Plaza clinic. DeMarco said doctors were run off their feet last winter. "We definitely need one more. We didn’t have enough doctors in the valley. Adam is replacing Ernie Ledgerwood but Ernie was doing seven days a week. Adam is only going to do five. We are still actually going to have a net manpower loss starting Nov. 2."
The Town Plaza medical clinic — a seven-day-a-week family practise and drop-in facility — will be increasing its hours from 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. staring Dec. 1. Dr Janice Carr and partner Dr Ian Tamplin are also using locums at their Town Plaza practise. They opened their clinic in September 1996. Both used to work out of St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver.