Province opens first urgent primary care centre in Vancouver

Province opens first urgent primary care centre in Vancouver
B.C. announces urgent care centre in Vancouver set to open on Monday
British Columbia's health minister has announced the opening of the province's fifth urgent primary care centre in order to lessen demand on emergency departments.

Adrian Dix said the facility opening in downtown Vancouver on Monday will provide treatment on evenings and weekends for non-life-threatening conditions.

The centres are part of the government's plan to reform primary care through a "team-based" approach that includes a doctor and other health-care providers including nurse practitioners and pharmacists.

About 750,000 people in the province do not have a family doctor and often end up going to hospital emergency rooms, Dix said Sunday at the centre.

"There are currently 20,000 people in the city centre without a doctor," he said, adding about a third of them go to emergency departments at two nearby hospitals for conditions that could be treated at the centre.

"It's our intention, our determination, to have one new urgent primary care centre in each health authority every six months for the next two years," Dix said.

In the new year, the Vancouver facility is expected to provide access to four family doctors in the same building.

"Additionally, basic lab services and X-rays will be provided onsite at the centre, and a pharmacy is also located in the building," Dix said.

Patients with mild to moderate mental health and substance-use challenges will be provided "same-day access to community supports," he said.

Dr. Eric Cadesky, president of Doctors of BC, said the best health-care systems in the world include access to strong primary health care.

"We're hopeful that this urgent primary care centre will be able to meet two of our community's greatest needs: access to urgent care after traditional business hours and attachment of people to family doctors who will care for them on an ongoing, long-term basis," Cadesky said.

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The first of B.C.’s new Urgent Primary Care Centres to be located in Vancouver is set to open its doors.

The West End facility, located at 1290 Hornby St., will open officially on Monday, and be the fifth such care centre to open in the province and the first in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

B.C.’s NDP government pledged the new facilities as a part of a province-wide overhaul of the healthcare system. They are intended to provide same-day access to physicians and nurses, while taking stress off of hospitals.

The province says the new Vancouver centre is intended for people with non-life threatening conditions who need medical attention within 12-24 hours, but aren’t in need of ER treatment.

It says about one-third of visits to the St. Paul’s Hospital emergency room are patients of this nature.

The centre will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

It will be operated as a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health and the Seymour Health Centre.

The province says that model will allow unattached patients who are seen at the centre to be connected to primary care providers on site, or referred to providers in the community for ongoing care, starting in 2019.

It says the centre will handle about 35,000 patients every year, using a “team-based” model in which doctors, nurses and medical office assistants work together in one environment.

The Ministry of Health estimates the centre will cost $3.7 million per year to operate, and cost $1.9 million to get started.

Starting in January, the centre will also work with the non-profit Vancouver Division of Family Practice to help connect 10,000 people with a primary care provider in their community.

Earlier this month, the province opened another Urgent Primary Care Centre in Surrey, located at 9639 137A Street.