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Primary health care network announced for Central Interior

Residents without a regular primary care provider will benefit
A primary care network has been approved for Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and surrounding First Nations communities that will provide team-based health care for the region. (Photo submitted)

Residents of Williams Lake, 100 Mile House and surrounding First Nations communities will benefit from a primary care network coming to the region, especially those without a regular family doctor or nurse practitioner.

“We’re establishing primary care networks to provide team-based care that meets the unique needs of communities and people,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “The primary care network in the Central Interior rural will support residents in getting access to the patient-centred care they need and deserve.”

Once the network is established the provincial government will provide $4.42 million in annual funding toward it.

Within the network there will be approximately 31 full-time equivalent (FTE) health providers, including one FTE general practitioner physician, 3.75 FTE nurse practitioners, 6.9 FTE registered nurses and 19.5 FTE allied health professionals including three FTE social workers, three dietitians, including one FTE at Secwecpemc, two FTE physiotherapists, two FTE mental health clinicians, one FTE traditional wellness co-ordinator, one FTE clinical pharmacist, one FTE respiratory therapist, one FTE occupational therapist, 1.5 FTE allied health professionals at Ulkatcho, two FTE Aboriginal patient navigators and two FTE primary care mental health counsellors.

Read more: B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

Jill Zirnhelt, executive director of the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice, said the new health providers will be deployed to Williams Lake, 100 Mile House, to First Nations communities out west as far as Ulkatcho First Nation.

“What should happen is patients will start seeing practitioners. They won’t have to see a family doctor for everything,” she said. “They might see a nurse practitioner for example. The idea of team-based care is not to have everything fall on a general practitioner physician (GP). GPs are doing things that other practitioners could could.”

Zirnhelt said the network should enhance the ability for everyone to access primary health care.

“It doesn’t give us the complement of new doctors that we need, but we are still working on actively recruiting physicians, but the primary care network can also be used as a recruitment tool. That’s a good thing.”

She said the addition of $4.42 million for primary care into the region is positive.

“The public should feel that in my opinion,” she added.

The primary care network is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Interior Heath, the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice, Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in and Dakelh Dene Nations and the First Nation Health Authority.

Over the next four years, the network will work to attach approximately 6,900 patients to a consistent primary care provider in the region, the Ministry of Health noted.

Read more: B.C. to launch 22 primary care networks to provide team-based health care

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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