The Government of British Columbia is supporting the transformation of health care for people living in the Comox Valley through the establishment of a primary care network, which will bring additional resources and strengthened supports to the region.
“Team-based care that responds to the needs of each community, as identified by those working in them, is going to be the backbone of the new primary care system in B.C. and will be how patients' everyday health-care needs are met today, tomorrow and beyond,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “These networks will work together to address long-standing gaps in everyday health care for people living in the Comox Valley.”
Over the next three years, up to 13 new full-time equivalent health-care providers will be recruited. These will include a nurse practitioner, registered nurses, allied health-care professionals and a clinical pharmacist.
The Province will provide approximately $2.2 million in annual funding to the primary care network once it is fully established.
The network in Comox Valley will see community partners work together to improve health-care access and enhanced delivery of healthcare for people in the Comox Valley.
“With focused attention on making sure Comox Valley’s seniors, First Nations people and residents with mental health and substance use issues have access to co-ordinated, quality primary and community care, the Comox Valley primary care network will benefit some of the region’s most vulnerable people,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “I’m proud of our government for giving this work the priority it deserves.”
Currently, the Comox Valley has eight family practice clinics with over 50 physicians participating in the implementation of team-based care within the primary care network, and 133 active physicians as part of the local Division of Family Practice. The network will partner new and existing health-care professionals with these clinics, Vancouver Island Health Authority, new Indigenous health resources, First Nations Health Authority resources and community organizations as part of a networked, team-based approach to providing integrated, whole-person care.
The network will provide a full range of accessible, everyday health services, which will better support patients and providers. It will also focus on improving access to strengthened, services to the following populations:
- people with mental health and substance use issues;
- Indigenous peoples; and
- frail seniors and people with complex health issues.
For people and families, it means getting faster, better access to their primary care team or provider, even on evenings and weekends, as well as being connected to appropriate services and supports in the community.
As part of this work, a new Indigenous wellness liaison position and an Indigenous wellness advocate position have been created to engage Indigenous peoples in the Comox Valley with primary care. Both positions will assist in creating stronger linkages and continuity between various health-care services and will help foster welcoming primary care spaces. For Indigenous peoples, this will mean more co-ordinated and culturally safe primary care support.
In late 2019, primary care network funding was directed toward the Health Connections Clinic, which provides team-based care for people with complex medical and/or socio-economic needs in the Comox Valley. The team was expanded to add one nurse practitioner, two registered nurses and a social worker. Further, primary care network funding has also added a significant increase in physician clinic time for those who access the Health Connections Clinic.
Over the next two years, remaining staff will be recruited into the network with a focus on providing services to the community based on need and discussions with partners.
“The creation of teams and increased attachment rates have been developed with the health-care professionals and service agencies at a community level. As a result, this is a plan that is reflective and responsive to the care needs of the people they serve, and it will build and refine over time as recruitment and services ramp up,” Dix said.
The Comox Valley primary care network is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Island Health, the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice, the First Nations Health Authority, K’òmoks First Nation, Patient Voices Network and Métis Nation British Columbia.
To learn more about the Province’s primary health-care strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010
To learn more about the Province’s strategy to increase the number of nurse practitioners, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0034-000995
To learn more about the Province’s strategy to recruit and retain more family medicine graduates, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0052-001043
Two backgrounders follow.