Fraser Lake in uproar after popular doctor’s contract is not renewed

The Fraser Lake community is up in arms after hearing that one of their doctors won’t be having his contract renewed by Northern Health this year.

The Fraser Lake community is up in arms after hearing that one of their doctors won’t be having his contract renewed by Northern Health this year.

Dr. Richard Beever has been working at the Fraser Lake Medical Clinic for just under eight years and was dedicated to staying in the community long-term.

While Dr. Beever has been given a period of notice for the termination of his Fraser Lake contract, he says he has been kept in the dark as to the reason for it.

“The reason they gave is technically they don’t need a reason – our contracts are set to be renewed on a yearly basis and the doctors aren’t part of a union or anything like that.” said Dr. Beever.

Ralph Roy, Chairperson with Stuart-Nechako Regional Hospital District said that he was informed that one of the reasons Dr. Beever’s contract wasn’t renewed was because “he wasn’t a good fit,” and is furious about it.

“Why would they tell him that eight years after he has been here? Why not tell him that the first year he was here?” said Roy.

“He is my personal doctor but he is also a doctor to a lot of people – he works hard, he’s got a young family, he’s bought a house and some land here – he wants to stay here.”

“Why didn’t they communicate with him first and say there are some things that you’re doing that we don’t like, we better sit down and talk about it?

“Is that the way you deal with professionals?” he said.

However, Northern Health says Dr. Beever will continue to work with them in the future.

“Dr. Beever’s position is a contract position at the clinic that is negotiated and decided upon annually with regard to renewal,” said Eryn Collins, a communications officer for Northern Health.

“The Fraser Lake Clinic contract is not being renewed but Dr. Beever is not leaving Northern Health.

“He’s remaining as an active member of the medical staff,” she said.

She added that he will be increasing his existing commitment to the Vanderhoof emergency department at St. John Hospital and will be obtaining some additional professional certifications in emergency medicine.

Dr. Beever confirmed that he will be helping out in Vanderhoof and possibly Burns Lake if Northern Health and the doctors there come to an agreement.

“The doctors at the Burns Lake Hospital are set to walk off at the end of April and if they do, I’m going to support them,” said Dr. Beever.

“Their biggest thing is they want a more sustainable system and hopefully they’ll come to some sort of arrangement with Northern Health and then I can help out there doing ER in the short term, while I think about where I want to transfer to,” he said.

He added that Northern Health have offered him positions in other northern communities.

“It is interesting in one breath that they don’t renew my contract and on the next breath they offer me a job in Burns Lake and Mackenzie, so I’m not sure what their long terms plans are,” said Dr. Beever.

He added that he suspects a contributing reason to him losing his job could be to do with two other part-time doctors leaving the clinic in August.  A full-time husband and wife team have been hired to replace them.

“Maybe with the shortage of doctors in the area they thought well if this is the two people they can get they are better off to hire two and let one go or try and move them around rather than being short a doctor,” said Dr. Beever.

“That might be playing into the reason why I’m being let go,” he said.

Dr. Beever says he has heavily investing in the Fraser Lake community and was planning to stay indefinitely.

“I own a house and some investment houses in Fraser Lake, and I moved my parents up here and I have them in one of my houses too so I’d planned on being here indefinitely,” he said.

“I have young kids in school here, I volunteer in the community and I’m 110 per cent dedicated to my work here,” he added.

His wife works at a dentist as a hygienist, but when she leaves, the dentist has said he is going to retire as it’s too hard to work without a hygienist and they are hard to find.

Patients of Dr. Beever are very upset about the news that he will be leaving, and many have written letters to Northern Health and Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, in objection to him being forced to leave.

“Oh, the patients are rallying … they were never consulted and I think that is one of the main concerns they have,” said Dr, Beever.

In a letter to Cathy Ulrich, CEO of Northern Health, patient Russ Smith wrote: “I have been a patient of Dr. Beever’s for over two years now and have found him to be one of the best doctors I have ever had. He is very competent, thorough, and caring … thus, I am not sure if one could find as good a doctor in the North than he.

“Moreover, Dr. Beever has been in Fraser Lake for close to a decade, has family in the area, and from all accounts has demonstrated that he wants to continue to practice medicine as a family physician in Fraser Lake.”

Another patient Lynn Smith also in a letter to Ulrich wrote: “As a patient who has some very complicated health problems and who has had the unfortunate experience of having difficulty finding adequate care here in the North, I am especially concerned that such a capable, competent and dedicated physician should not have his contract renewed. Dr. Beever and his family have made a full and permanent commitment to our northern community and contribute in many ways … I, personally will be quite lost without his care and I am unsure of who would be able to replace him adequately.”

Audrey Read wrote an in-depth letter to Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad detailing the incredible help Dr. Beever had been to her daughter who had a collapsed lung several times. In conclusion to her letter she wrote: “And now Northern Health won’t renew his contract. Are they out of their minds? What a horrendous mistake they are making! Not that Dr. Beever is not a good doctor mind you, because they have offered him a job elsewhere in the Northern Health region! Unfortunately Northern Health and some of their administrative staff have lost sight of the real reason for their jobs … PATIENT CARE and NOT just the bottom line and having control over their fellow workers.”

Rustad told the Express on Saturday: “Dr. Beever is an excellent doctor. He’s someone who has enormous potential and he’s someone who I know that Northern Health would like to keep in the organization.

“Dr. Beever has a few priority things that he wants to do so I am hopeful that he will be able to remain in Northern Health and remain providing the excellent services that he has provided throughout the years,” he said.

Dr. Beever says he is not sure where he will transfer to yet. His last day of work at the Fraser Lake clinic will be April 29.