The expanded Martin Street Urgent and Primary Care Centre and Ponderosa Primary Care Clinic in Penticton are intended to round out what health care is available in the community.
They are also how the Ministry of Health wants to see care be delivered in the future.
“Penticton is a model for British Columbia,” said Minister Adrian Dix after the announcement for the Martin Street urgent care centre on March 9. “We’re proud of Ponderosa, and working with all of the people for the urgent and primary care centre is one more step towards providing the primary care people in the South Okanagan Similkameen deserve.”
Dix was joined by Dr. Greg Selinger with the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice, Interior Health chief executive officer Susan Brown, Dr. Kyle Stevens, Ooknakane Friendship Centre executive director Matthew Baran and patient Shawn Kelley to announce the new urgent and primary care centre on Martin Street which is expected to open March 31.
The urgent and primary care centre will be an expansion to the existing Martin Street Outreach Centre, where Stevens works out of.
When the clinic first opened, four doctors expressed interest in working there and 250 people were expected to need service. Currently, the Outreach Centre provides care for over 1,200 people who are served by nine physicians, a nurse practitioner, and a full-time social worker.
In addition to expanding the service that Martin Street currently provides to individuals dealing with mental health and addictions who have trouble finding family doctors, the centre will provide urgent care for people on weekends and in evenings, hours that are traditionally difficult to find care for outside of going to the emergency department.
Once the urgent care centre is fully open, it will provide care on weekends from noon until 6 p.m., as well as in the evenings during the week from 5 p.m. until 8.
There will 14 full-time health care staff with more expected to join over time.
“Having this time of clinic helps round out the primary care in the community, because I think no one clinic and no one type of clinic is going to be the answer to everything,” said Selinger. “It’s going to take a network of different types of clinics that all support each other to provide the wrap-around primary care that our patients need.”
Providing a broad range of care, both specialized and general, with doctors working alongside support staff and other trained medical professionsals is the goal of the primary care networks that the Ministry is aiming to build.
“I think this is just one part of a bigger network,” said Selinger. “You can have specialized and focussed primary care like what Martin Street provides and the longitudinal primary care like you see in Ponderosa and traditional medical clinics, and then urgent and after hours care which is a bit more difficult.”
Selinger continued to add that urgent care centres like Martin Street will help to relieve doctors who already have their family practices and have been also working to provide some urgent after-hours care for the community.
Meeting the needs of the many people in the South Okanagan without a family doctor was the goal of establishing the primary care network, said Dix.
To build up the supply of care for communities, the Ministry has put funding towards avenues like Ponderosa and Martin Street.
“Through the primary care networks which we’re supporting, through primary care clinics like Ponderosa, and through urgent and primary care centres, which will add yet another model,” said Dix.
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