Several Kelowna-region family doctors are welcoming nurses to their practice teams, to expand access and support more patients with their health needs.
Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick and Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson announced a new “nurse-in-practice” initiative in the region today.
Six family doctors’ offices have expressed interest in bringing nurses into their practices – including licensed practical nurses and registered nurses – through new funding from the Province. Supported by the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice, the doctors are in the early stages of recruitment, with nurses expected to join their offices in the coming months.
This initiative is part of a comprehensive primary and community care strategy in Kelowna which will improve access to care for Central Okanagan residents. In addition to nurses in primary care practices, it includes redesigning services to better support people with mental-health and substance-use concerns, a new Seniors Health and Wellness Centre, and targeted recruitment of family physicians.
It is expected that at least 3,000 residents in the community who are currently without a family physician will be attached to a primary care provider through this multipronged strategy. The work in Kelowna is a collaborative effort among the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice, the Ministry of Health, Interior Health and the Doctors of BC to help connect more patients with primary care.
The strategy builds on the division’s successful recruitment program, which has resulted in 11 family physicians moving to the area since 2015, and represents about 11,000 people newly attached to a family doctor. A further seven physicians are committed to starting practice this year in the area, with more having expressed interest in relocating to the Central Okanagan.
A key part of getting connected to a primary care provider is having a process to match patients with providers accepting new patients as capacity becomes available. To support this, the Province will establish a dedicated contact number for Central Okanagan residents without a family doctor, which will be in place by June 2017.
The nurse-in-practice initiative is part of the ministry’s work with physicians and health authorities to enhance primary and community care across the province. To bring nurses into their practice, doctors complete an assessment of their overall patient population to determine what services and skill sets are most needed in their practice, and which type of nurse would best complement their team. It is anticipated that as nurses are recruited and join practices, practices will have more capacity to care for patients with complex health needs and take on new patients.
On April 3, 2017, Health Minister Terry Lake made a $90-million funding announcement to support the expansion of team-based primary care throughout the province over the next three years, which includes the nurse-in-practice initiative. Teams and networks of primary-care providers are at the centre of the new model, with strong connections to new specialized community care services provided by health authorities.
Targeted investments to support the implementation of the ministry’s strategic priorities are made possible with a $4.2 billion budget lift in the ministry’s budget over the next three years.
Premier Christy Clark –
“The way we deliver health care is changing. Having nurses work alongside family physicians means more day-to-day help for doctors – and better care for their patients.”
Norm Letnick, MLA for Kelowna-Lake Country –
“Through the nurse-in-practice initiative, family doctors will be able to draw on the expertise of the more than 55,000 nurses in B.C. to create a well-rounded team of health-care providers who are best positioned to treat a range of health-care needs. I am eager to see how the initiative takes shape in Kelowna and beyond.”
Steve Thomson, MLA for Kelowna-Mission –
“Nurses play a key role in our health-care team. I look forward to welcoming nurses into doctors’ offices throughout the community, and I know that Kelowna residents will benefit from this new partnership.”
Dr. Janet Evans, Kelowna family physician –
"I'm excited to take part in this opportunity to add a nurse to the clinic. This represents a future model of primary care that will help me provide an innovative approach for my patients.”
Glenn McRae, chief nursing officer, Interior Health –
“We are pleased to support the nurse-in-practice initiative. It’s a creative endeavour and a great example of how we can work together to improve the quality of primary health-care services in our communities.”
Dr. Alan Ruddiman, president, Doctors of BC –
“Doctors of BC is committed to making a positive difference to provide greater access to care for patients. We are pleased to partner with government on the nurse-in-practice initiative, which is just one example of how doctors around the province are supporting team-based care.”
See the Ministry of Health’s strategic priorities at: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/about-bc-s-health-care-system/health-priorities/setting-priorities-for-bc-health