Expanded team-based care bringing more doctors, nurses, improved health care for people in south Okanagan (flickr.com)

Media Contacts

Jimmy Smith

Deputy Communications Director
Office of the Premier

Ministry of Health

250 952-1887 (media line)


Facts about the south Okanagan-Similkameen PCN

Communities throughout the province are coming together to plan and create primary care networks (PCNs). PCNs are local community-based networks of family practitioners that plan and deliver the primary care needs of a community – in some ways this is similar to how school districts work together to plan and deliver education services. 

PCNs can include family doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, social workers, midwives, mental-health professionals, First Nations and community providers and others, depending on the needs of the people who live there. These teams will include existing family doctor offices, nurse practitioners, services offered at health-authority facilities, community-health service organizations and more. 

Each PCN will offer programs and services to help patients manage their health. Family doctors and nurse practitioners, working with a team of health professionals, will work together to address health and wellness concerns and help people achieve their health goals.

Each PCN designs programs and services to best meet local needs, which vary by community and region, while integrating into the broader health system to provide wraparound care.

Of the people in the south Okanagan-Similkameen region, approximately 9,000 patients are in the Health Connect Registry and have indicated they are looking for a family physician or nurse practitioner. Their needs will be addressed by the primary care network and associated strategies.

The initial approval for the south Okanagan-Similkameen PCN was for approximately 24.0 full-time equivalent (FTE) health-care providers dedicated to the PCN. Through the PCN Rural Growth Plan, the total approved FTE increased to 41.75.

As of April 1, 2024, 36.2 FTEs have been hired, which include:

  • 6.2 family physicians
  • 8.5 FTE nurse practitioners
  • 5.0 FTE registered nurses
  • 11.5 FTE allied health providers, including social workers, dietitians, community workers, mental-health and substance-use counsellors, and physiotherapists
  • 1.0 FTE clinical pharmacists
  • 2.0 FTE Traditional Healers
  • 2.0 non-clinical support staff

The establishment and expansion of primary care networks mean that many more patients:

  • who don’t have a regular primary care provider, such as a family doctor or nurse practitioner, will be able to get one;
  • will have an ongoing relationship with their primary care provider, which is important for their life-long health;
  • will get access to faster, more convenient care from their doctor or nurse practitioner and the care team;
  • will be provided and connected with a range of appropriate and accessible services and supports;
  • will be informed about all aspects of their care in community; and
  • will know where to go to get the care they need, even on evenings and weekends.
What people are saying about the south Okanagan-Similkameen PCN

Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health –

“An expanded primary care network into the south Okanagan-Similkameen communities connects more people with the range of services and supports they need to access care early and stay healthy.”

Dr. Jennifer Begin, board chair, South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) Division of Family Practice –

“As a doctor working in team-based care in Penticton, we value allied health and nursing support for our patients in our clinics. The South Okanagan-Similkameen region was one of the first to hire primary care network positions in B.C. back in 2019 and we are pleased that all of the SOS communities now benefit from these resources with the expansion into our rural communities. We encourage anyone still needing a doctor or nurse practitioner to sign up with the provincial Health Connect Registry and not to call clinics directly as that takes time away from patient care.”

Bernice Budz, CEO, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC –

“The Association of the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC is pleased that the knowledge, skills and expertise of the entire health-care team will improve access to health care for people in B.C. through the expansion of the primary care network. We believe that this approach will be pivotal in ensuring B.C. families feel connected to their health-care team and we are excited to see the growth of primary care networks in B.C.”

Martin Johansen, mayor of Oliver –

“Approval of the Rural Growth Plan and expansion of the primary care network for the south Okanagan-Similkameen is exciting news. More people getting access to health care closer to home is a priority and a much-appreciated investment in our rural communities.”

Celeste Keller, registered dietitian, south Okanagan-Similkameen primary care network –

“It is great to see how the allied health team works together with physicians and nurse practitioners to support patients in their clinic. It makes for a familiar and safe space for patients, and ensures people get care in a timely manner.”