People in Prince George will soon have better access to team-based everyday health care, with the new Prince George Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) anticipated to open in June 2019 and the launch of a primary-care network (PCN).
“This primary-care network and urgent primary-care centre will connect people in Prince George with better, faster health care,” said Premier John Horgan. “With more than 30 new health-care professionals joining the community to deliver team-based care, people will benefit from greater access to health care, helping them lead healthier lives.”
Together, the PCN and UPCC will recruit more than 30 new health-care providers over the next three years. This includes 26 nursing and allied health-care professionals, one general practitioner, two nurse practitioners, one clinical pharmacist, an Elder to ensure cultural safety and and two new resources to support extended access to lab services in the community.
This is a community-supported initiative, with 100% of the region’s existing clinics working collaboratively in the primary-care network. All of Prince George’s 32 primary-care clinics and two community health centres will work together to provide team-based care to the entire population.
“The urgent and primary-care centre and the primary-care network in Prince George will ensure the health needs of people living in the community and the surrounding areas are met in a faster, more comprehensive and efficient way,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “New services will include extended hours of care, teams of interdisciplinary health-care professionals and attachment opportunities, which will offer a solution for the approximately 2,000 people in Prince George who do not have a consistent primary-care provider.”
The network will include Prince George and the surrounding area, including the community of Lheidli T’enneh. New and existing health-care professionals will work collaboratively together and with health authority and community organizations to provide team-based care to the entire population of Prince George.
The urgent and primary-care clinic centre will be located in the Parkwood Place Mall, 1600 15th Ave. Through the PCN and the UPCC, comprehensive, team-based care will be provided to the 87,500 people residing in Prince George and surrounding area. At full capacity, the new centre is expected to add capacity for 8,000 additional patient visits per year for both urgent and primary-care appointments.
The centre will offer drop-in team-based care in the evenings and weekends for people with non-life-threatening conditions who need to see a health-care provider within 12 to 24 hours but do not require the level of expertise found in emergency departments. During the weekdays, providers will be available on-site to provide follow-up care and care coordination through scheduled appointments.
The urgent and primary-care centre will be staffed by general practitioners from the community and be supported by nursing and allied health professionals to address patients’ health-care needs in one setting. A nurse practitioner, mental-health and substance-use clinician and primary-care nurse will provide care at the centre during the day.
“We are transforming our provincial primary-care system, so it is more focused on a team-based approach that will best respond to the needs of communities throughout the province, including in Prince George,” Dix said. “The network is part of our primary-care strategy to strengthen services and improve access to everyday health care, and will be how patients are treated today, tomorrow and in the future.”
The network was developed to better meet the specific needs of the community and improve health services identified as high priority for the community. These include:
- improved access to team-based care for patients and families to improve health and well-being;
- strengthened primary-care services for people without a regular primary-care provider with a focus on Indigenous peoples, as they currently have a lower rate of attachment in the community; and
- culturally safe, wraparound primary-care outreach services provided to the most vulnerable unattached patients through the Blue Pine Community Health Centre.
As part of this work, a new outreach primary-care program will be established. Based out of Prince George’s two community health centres, Central Interior Native Health and the Blue Pine Clinic, health-care providers will reach out to the community to bring primary-care to patients where ever they are. The First Nations Health Authority, Northern Health and the Division of Family Practice are also working together to establish a mobile support team to deliver mental-wellness services to First Nations communities in the Prince George region.
The provincial government will provide approximately $4.7 million in annual funding by the third year to the Prince George network, including the new urgent and primary-care centre as net new positions are added and patients are attached.
Primary-care networks are also being implemented in Fraser northwest communities, Burnaby and South Okanagan Similkameen.
The PCN in Prince George and new UPCC support additional provincial actions to strengthen health care in the region. The Quesnel Urgent and Primary Care Centre opened on Oct. 31, 2018. Since then, the centre has had 938 patient visits. With government’s new surgical and diagnostic strategy, people living in Prince George and northern British Columbia will have reduced wait times for hip and knee surgeries, and a 70% increase in magnetic resonance imaging exams.
In addition, work is underway to improve several hospitals in northern B.C., including significant steps to build new hospitals in Terrace and Fort St. John, a redeveloped and expanded Dawson Creek and District Hospital, and a new emergency department and intensive care unit at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel.
To learn more about the Province’s primary health-care strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010
Three backgrounders follow.