People living in Penticton and surrounding communities have better access to team-based everyday health care with a new urgent and primary care centre (UPCC) that is now open at 101 - 437 Martin Street.
“The opening of the Penticton UPCC is excellent news for people living in the region,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The centre will help connect more people with the health care they need when they need it most. Area residents who currently do not have a primary care provider will benefit from increased access to same-day appointments for urgent needs and ongoing primary care.”
Currently, a team of 14 full-time equivalent (FTE) clinical health-care professionals is working at the centre, including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals.
The team is first providing long-term primary care services for people with mental health and substance use needs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. These services include complex care management, mental health and substance-use health care, opioid agonist treatment, women’s health support and counselling referrals.
“Embedding mental health and addictions care into urgent and primary care centres across B.C. is vital to removing stigma and barriers to care,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I’m encouraged that, along with so many other B.C. communities, people in Penticton and the surrounding area will now be able to connect to the mental health and addictions supports they need and deserve.”
The centre is expected to be fully operational by the end of April 2021. At that time it is anticipated that approximately 19 FTE health-care workers will be recruited, including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, allied health professionals and administrative staff. Beginning April 12, the UPCC will increase urgent primary care services, Monday to Thursday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday noon to 6 p.m. with services on Friday and Sunday coming later.
“This expansion of service for South Okanagan residents is exciting because it will provide greater access, closer to home,” said Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen. “People in communities throughout the South Okanagan region will benefit from more patient-centred, team-based care. The opening of the Penticton UPCC provides one more avenue to lower the barriers for those seeking care in rural communities like ours.”
This means more access to same-day care for people who need health care within 12 to 24 hours, but don’t require an emergency department, such as people with sprains, cuts, high fevers and minor infections.
The UPCC will help attach patients to regular primary care providers by connecting patients to health-care providers in the community, in collaboration with the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice. In addition, the centre will provide ongoing care for unattached patients while they work on connecting patients to other local practices for their long-term care.
The Penticton UPCC is a collaboration between Interior Health, the Ministry of Health, the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice, the Martin Street Outreach Centre Association, OneSky Community Resources and local Aboriginal partners, including the Penticton Indian Band and Ooknakane Friendship Centre. This UPCC is part of the South Okanagan Similkameen Primary Care Network.
This is the 22nd UPCC to open under the government's primary care strategy. Of those, six are in the Interior Health region, including in Castlegar, Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and West Kelowna.
Dr. Doug Cochrane, board chair, Interior Health –
“We are excited to see the Penticton urgent and primary care centre open its doors. It will increase access to local health services for people living in the community and surrounding area – an option that will augment the excellent primary care already available in the Penticton region. With a team-based approach to care, and with a significant focus on helping vulnerable populations, patients and families will have added support for their immediate and long-term health needs.”
Chief Greg Gabriel, Penticton Indian Band –
“The Penticton Indian Band welcomes and supports the enhancement of primary care services into our region and territory. With this new facility, we will see more easier and enhanced access to health-care services for those in need. It is our wish for the realization of a holistic approach to the health and well-being of our Sylix people.”
Dr. Greg Selinger, board chair, South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice –
“We welcome the Penticton UPCC as part of our primary care network. We are looking forward to patients having increased access to urgent care, especially for those patients waiting for attachment to a family doctor or nurse practitioner.”
Dr. Matthew Chow, president, Doctors of BC –
“We look forward to the integration of the Penticton UPCC in hopes it will strengthen primary care in the community. Doctors of BC has a strong interest in ensuring people have access to the health-care services they need. We also emphasize the importance of measures that strengthen the long-term relationships between patients and their family doctor. These relationships have been shown to improve health outcomes, help avoid preventable illness and reduce the cost of health care.”
Michael Sandler, executive director, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC –
“Nurses and nurse practitioners of B.C. are pleased to see that the knowledge, skills and expertise of the entire health-care team will be utilized to improve access to health care for all British Columbians through urgent and primary care clinics. We believe that this approach will be pivotal in ensuring B.C. families can access health-care services, and we are excited to see the opening of another urgent and primary care clinic in B.C.”
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
A backgrounder follows.