The St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation has just signed a one-year lease on a three-bedroom home in West Sechelt that will provide temporary housing for physicians and other health care professionals who come to serve the Sunshine Coast.
“Short-term accommodation is required when off-Coast medical staff cover off for locums, shifts and holiday relief as well as when new permanent medical staff require short-term housing prior to moving into their own home,” foundation chair Maureen Clayton said.
It is hoped the temporary housing will entice more medical professionals to come here and encourage them to consider working permanently on the Sunshine Coast.
Clayton said that currently there are many local physicians approaching retirement or preparing for maternity leave, creating the need to find replacements soon.
Leasing a house to entice physicians to work here isn’t a new idea; in fact, the foundation leased the same house a few years ago when staff was in short supply at the emergency room of St. Mary’s Hospital.
“We were going to have to shut the emergency room because we didn’t have enough doctors,” foundation treasurer Ron Nelson recalled. “But we leased the house for two years and it resolved the problem.”
With the problem solved, the foundation ended their lease; however, recently, the Sunshine Coast division of family practice asked the foundation to try it again.
“The foundation was only too happy to help out,” Clayton said.
“When it opens in mid-July, individuals using this recently renovated home will not be charged a per diem rate; instead, they will be asked to make an appropriate donation to St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation during or at the end of their stay.”
Homeowner Roberta Leslie said she is pleased to offer her home on lease to the foundation again, noting she feels it’s a way she can help the hospital that did so much for her first husband, who died in 2003.
“It just seemed like a good idea,” she said.
Leslie now lives in Gibsons with her second husband in a cottage. The couple has been using the West Sechelt home for “luxuries” like watching TV, but added it will be better used by the foundation.
The St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation is delighted with the arrangement.
“The last time the foundation leased this beautiful home, a number of the temporary medical staff decided to make the Sunshine Coast their home,” Clayton said.