A new medical clinic is opening in Mission, thanks to the efforts of a former Hatzic Secondary School graduate.
Dr. Peter Eppinga has opened the Gwaii Medical Centre inside the Walmart in Mission.
Eppinga was born in Prince Rupert, and his family moved to Mission when he was still young. He went to school at Windebank Elementary but, when he was in Grade 5, his family moved again, this time to Haida Gwaii.
He lived and went to school there from Grade 5 to 10 before returning to Mission to finish the last two years of his schooling at Hatzic Secondary.
In 2000, Eppinga went to the University of the Fraser Valley and earned his degree in kinesiology. From there he went to UBC, eventually doing his residency training in Calgary before practising in Saskatoon.
He has officially been a doctor for about two years.
Now, he has returned.
“I wanted to come back to Mission because it is the community I grew up in. It’s an under-served population as well so I know there is a big need here.”
Becoming a doctor has been a life-long dream for Eppinga.
“I’ve always wanted to be a medical doctor, since I was five years old,” he said, adding that his parents, Gerry and Beatrice, always told him he could become anything he wanted to be and nothing should hold him back.
His dad went out and bought him a book on human anatomy.
“I counted out all of the bones – now you can just ask Siri how many bones are in the human body – I was counting out every single bone.”
In his youth, Eppinga said he started to make some bad choices and got into a little bit of trouble.
When he was 18, he decided to make a change.
“Eventually it came to a point in my life where I decided to follow God and what my dad and mother had taught me.”
The rest, as the old saying goes, is history.
The new Gwaii Medical Clinic will officially open on June 15. However, Eppinga is already seeing patients.
Although the clinic is in Mission, he named it after his other childhood home.
“Haida Gwaii means the ‘island of the people’ so we called this Gwaii Medical Clinic because we wanted it to be the clinic of the people. We want to deliver medical care with kindness.”
There will be two physicians working out of the clinic, which will serve 50 per cent walk-in patients and 50 per cent family practice.
Eppinga plans to open the clinic in the evenings as well so people who are working during the day can still see a physician.
He is currently accepting new patients. For more information, call the office at 604-287-2010.