Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton is considered a model for care clinics going forward by the South Okanagan Division of Family Practice. (Monique Tamminga)

Primary Care Clinic funding could be a cure for South Okanagan Similkameen doctor shortage

Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton is a model for future care clinics and doctor recruitment

The South Okanagan Similkameen needs doctors and one way to attract them is to give them support for providing the best care they can give.

That is the thought driving the development of team-based primary care clinics like the Ponderosa Primary Care Centre in Penticton.

“The goal of Ponderosa is to attract physicians, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals to the region. Physicians and nurse practitioners are looking for clinics with multiple providers working in a team with other healthcare professionals,” said Tracy St. Claire, the executive director of the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice (SOS DFP). “They also want meaningful involvement in decision-making, but without responsibility for day-to-day business management.”

Clinics like Ponderosa, which currently serves 7,000 patients with six family doctors, two nurse practitioners, two specialists, two nurses, five allied health professionals and seven administrative staff, are how the SOS DFP want to see future care centres, if they can get the funding for more.

Finding that funding is currently one of the difficulties for any further clinics in the area.

The South Okanagan Similkameen Hospital District voted on Jan. 7 to maintain their financial model of providing funds to Interior Health for projects and not to provide funds for separate physician recruitment. On Jan. 21, the district board voted to approve the IH budget; excluding $1.4 million in Primary Care Network funding for expanding the services IH provides.

READ MORE: No funding for Primary Care Networks from South Okanagan Similkameen Hospital District

Ponderosa’s $340,000 in renovation and equipment costs were funded by the Ministry of Health’s primary care network funding as a prototype clinic, a source that currently isn’t available for other clinics.

Ponderosa, operating in Penticton since November 2019, was designed collaboratively by local doctors, nurse practitioners, Penticton Indian Band and Interior Health staff as part of the area’s Primary Care Network service plan for Penticton, Summerland and Okanagan Falls. Two of the doctors at Ponderosa were recruited in the last five months, with more interested in the clinic but limited by the lack of space, according to the SOS DFP.

“Experience elsewhere and at Ponderosa show that once the clinic is built, the operations will cover the ongoing costs and make our area more attractive for physician and nurse practitioner recruitment,” said St. Claire.

That success is a promising one for the future, especially for other communities like Oliver, which is facing a shortage of physicians and a need for clinic space.

“The landscape for primary care funding has changed in the past decade. Up until now, family doctors have traditionally set up and managed their own practices. They would own or lease their space, pay for and maintain all of the equipment, hire the staff and manage the day-to-day operations,” said St. Claire.

“This model is no longer affordable in most communities as real estate prices rise and as doctors have more choices to work where they don’t need to provide their own space and run the entire business.”

Going forward, with no clear avenue for receiving funding from the Ministry of Health or from the SOS Hospital District, primary clinics may have to see their start-up funding sourced from other avenues, such as local municipalities, the SOS Medical Foundation and the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen. Some of the discussions between the SOS DFP, IH, and local First Nations and governments have explored how to deal with the challenges for space.

READ MORE: Hospital district decision not the end for clinic funding chances

The SOS DFP has also started exploring models of financing the start-up costs and paying them back over a number of years once the clinic is in operation.

One thing is clear, if the communities of the South Okanagan Similkameen want more doctors, and to tackle the 5,000 long list of unattached patients, there will need to be some way to fund it.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

DoctorsOkanagan-Similkameen Regional District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From left to right. Jeremy, Ryan and Mitch Hunter are all third generation owners of Excel Tire, which will soon to become Trail Tire. (File)
3 generations later: Iconic Revelstoke tire business to be retread with new name

Excel Tire soon to become Trail Tire, but is still owned by the Hunter family

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
36 new cases of COVID-19, one death in Interior Health

The number of active cases in the region is at 366

Downtown Revelstoke on March 4, 2021. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
48 COVID-19 cases in February for Revelstoke

Since the start of the pandemic roughly one out of 30 local residents have contracted the virus

Mussel inspection sit set up at B.C.-Alberta border. (Contributed)
Okanagan Basin Water Board calls for stronger invasive mussel protection

Letter sets out six recommendations for environment minister George Heyman to consider

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
B.C. dentists and bus drivers want newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

BC Dental Association says dentists and their teams cannot treat patients remotely

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier John Horgan looks on during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Premier touches on protest, housing controversy in Penticton

Protesters have said they plan to go on despite police warning

Googlemaps photo
WorkBC's Find Your Fit tour will be at Len Wood Middle school Tuesday.
LOCKDOWN: Armstrong student allegedly threatens staff with weapon

RCMP called, no students were at risk, according to school

Most Read