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Warm Welcome attracts Family Physician from the UK to Pitt Meadows


Encouraged by friends who had settled in Canada, Dr. Lakshmikanth Challa decided in 2012 to consider a move for his family from Peterborough, UK. A number of communities in southern Ontario and the Lower Mainland pursued Dr. Challa, but in the end, he decided to settle in Pitt Meadows. 

The Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice (RMDFP) was instrumental in helping Dr. Challa make a decision by showing him how welcome he would be in Pitt Meadows. One of the RMDFP's key projects is A GP for Me, a joint initiative of the Government of BC and Doctors of BC. 

Community partners
"The work of the Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice and community partners through A GP for Me reflects the efforts underway across the province to recruit physicians and improve patient access to primary care," said Health Minister Terry Lake. "I welcome these new doctors to Pitt Meadows and our provincial health system."

When asked why he chose Pitt Meadows, Dr. Challa explained: "Pitt Meadows presented the possibility of a good life. It's a happy, friendly community and we were particularly drawn by the schools offering my children an excellent education."

Another family physician, Dr. Don Okere from South Africa, joined the clinic in August 2014. More recently, Dr. Manisha Bakhshi, an acquaintance of Dr. Challa's  from the United Kingdom, joined the practice in January 2015. A fourth family physician has been approached and discussions are ongoing with a view to joining the clinic. 

Red carpet 
The influx of new physicians to Pitt Meadows may not have been possible without the assistance of Health Match BC, Fraser Health, and key community partners who contribute to the Red Carpet Program, including local realtors and representatives of economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, municipalities, a private school, and local businesses. GPs also welcomed the new recruits with open arms, picking them up from the airport, touring them through the hospital, taking on mentorship roles, organizing welcome luncheons with community leaders, and inviting them to dine in their homes. 

Treena Innes, Executive Director of the RMDFP said: "Our community recognizes that the recruitment and retention of physicians is everyone's responsibility. The success of our recruitment efforts is in large part due our warm, welcoming and friendly community members and physicians who contribute to our Red Carpet Program."

Asked if he made the right decision settling in Pitt Meadows, Dr. Challa said: "I have a satisfying professional life with more independence and less bureaucracy than in the past. My kids love their new school, my spouse has made friends and we are all happy with the work-life balance my new practice offers. I am happy to have been able to take on and care for patients who, with the semi retirement of their former doctor, may not have had a family physician."



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