More people living in Victoria and surrounding communities will have increased access to primary health-care services as a new urgent and primary care centre (UPCC) opened at the Gorge Road Hospital at 63 Gorge Rd. E. on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022.
“Our government is committed to increasing and improving access to everyday primary health care throughout Victoria and the province,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The new urgent and primary care centre on the Gorge means that more people in the region will have expanded access to the team-based, comprehensive health care they need, when they need it.”
The Gorge UPCC operates as part of the Victoria Primary Care Network (PCN). As part of a gradual opening, the centre is providing a limited number of appointments for people in the Victoria area.
As hiring progresses, patients will eventually be seen by a team of 23.2 full-time equivalent (FTE) health-care providers, including general practitioners, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, mental-health and substance-use clinicians, nursing unit aides and social workers.
“People in Victoria and in communities nearby have struggled with getting access to primary care providers,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “I’m proud of our government’s primary care strategy and the way that it’s bringing co-ordinated, comprehensive services closer to home for people in our community and across B.C. through initiatives like the new Gorge UPCC.”
The centre will serve two purposes: The first is to attach patients to the UPCC, ensuring unattached patients are provided with appropriate followup care after their initial visit. Patients attached to the UPCC will receive a comprehensive suite of primary care services through on-site services combined with services provided through the broader Victoria Primary Care Network.
The second purpose is to provide care for people experiencing non-life-threatening conditions, such as an ankle sprain or a sore throat, who need to see a health-care provider within 12 to 24 hours but do not require an emergency department. The UPCC also provides specialized urgent primary care to seniors, the medically frail and patients presenting with mental-health and substance-use issues.
The comprehensive primary care services available at the UPCC will include:
- diagnosis and treatment for minor illnesses;
- provision of harm-reduction supplies and education;
- reproductive care;
- vaccinations and injections;
- early detection;
- guideline-based chronic disease management and co-ordination of services;
- referrals to community services; and
- pre- and post-surgical care and ongoing monitoring, including of medication.
Starting at 8 a.m. each day, people can call the Gorge UPCC (250 519-3800) to arrange same-day access to urgent care.
The Gorge UPCC is the 28th UPCC that has been announced under the government’s primary-care strategy. Of those, seven are in the Island Health region, including six in Victoria (Downtown Victoria, Esquimalt, Gorge, James Bay, North Quadra and Westshore) and one in Nanaimo (Medical Arts), which have cumulatively reported more than 250,000 patient visits.
The Victoria Primary Care Network is expanding access to care, increasing attachment to primary-care providers, building health-care teams and implementing new models of care to better serve the needs of the changing population. Recent examples of this expansion in primary-care service in Victoria include:
- the opening of the Luther Court Community Health Centre;
- two FTE registered nurses providing longitudinal care management for complex patients within the Victoria Primary Care Network; and
- four FTE mental-health and substance-use clinicians and four FTE pharmacists supporting patient medical homes to increase access to enhanced team-based care and co-ordination.
- These teams provide services in part from a primary care network hub in the downtown Victoria area.
The Gorge UPCC is one of the initiatives throughout B.C. to support health-care providers and increase patient access to primary care.
In August 2022, the Province, in partnership with the Doctors of BC, announced $118 million in short-term stabilization funding to support family physicians and help ensure that patients have continued access to primary-care services. Running for four months, from Oct. 1, 2022 to Jan. 31, 2023, the funding will support family physicians and medical clinics with their operational business costs. It is part of a multi-phased approach to help protect and strengthen B.C.’s health-care system, including improving recruitment and retention of health-care providers and adding additional resources to increase training capacity.
Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health –
“We are so delighted to open the sixth urgent and primary care centre in the South Island. As part of the provincial primary care agenda – and locally through the Greater Victoria Primary Care Networks – investments in existing family physician offices, new PCN programs, community health centres, nurse practitioner clinics, First Nations-led primary care investments and UPCCs are helping increase access to integrated, comprehensive, culturally safe and trauma-informed primary care.”
Dr. Tia Pham, Island Health medical lead, Gorge UPCC –
“After arriving from Ontario this past spring, I am excited to help respond to the demand for primary care and urgent medical needs in the Victoria area. Our inter-professional team will offer comprehensive longitudinal care to families and people in our community, and it will be a great opportunity to work with the other UPCCs in Victoria to increase access to care.”
Michael Sandler, CEO, 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.”
People interested in attachment to primary care in Victoria can register with the Health Connect Registry: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-connect-registry/oceanside
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.