More health-care funding announced for South Okanagan

Click to play video: 'More health care support coming online'
More health care support coming online
The South Okanagan-Similkameen region is set to receive more help within the local healthcare system. The region has been struggling with staffing shortages and many residents are without a family doctor. Taya Fast has more. – May 29, 2024

More health-care dollars are being poured into the South Okanagan.

That’s according to the province, which said on Wednesday that, along with more than 36 full-time health-care professionals providing team-based care, more full-time jobs have been approved and funded.

The province didn’t say how many more full-time jobs have been approved, or what fields they’ll be in, but noted they’ll be added to the region’s expanding primary care network.

Click to play video: 'Interior Health extends Urgent and Primary Care hours'
Interior Health extends Urgent and Primary Care hours

“People in the B.C. Interior deserve high-quality health care, close to home,” said Premier David Eby. “Now is the time to strengthen public health care by building more hospitals and hiring health-care workers, not making devastating cuts.

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“An expanded South Okanagan primary care network means new family doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and more, delivering the care people deserve.”

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The province’s health minister, Adrian Dix, added that “we are putting people first by making significant investments into B.C.’s health-care workforce and system.”

Dix said, “With the hiring of dozens of health-care providers working directly in the South Okanagan, we are improving access to team-based care for more people, as well as connecting more people to a primary care provider.”

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New CT scanner to improve patient care in the North Okanagan

A primary care network is a team-based platform. For example, if a person with arthritis talks to a doctor, that person may be referred to a physiotherapist, either local or nearby.

The province says 22,558 people in the South Okanagan and Similkameen have been attached to a primary care provider.

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“This collaboration within the (primary care network) team ensures holistic, appropriate and timely support is available without the patient needing to wait and travel a long distance to receive the specialized support of various disciplines,” said the province.

The Ministry of Health says it added around $2.2 million to support its rural growth plan for Oliver, Osoyoos, Princeton, Keremeos, the Upper and Lower Similkameen Indian Bands and the Osoyoos Indian Band.

For the region, that pushed the total annual funding to $6.8 million.

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“Both patients and practitioners see the enormous value in team-based care,” said Roly Russell, MLA for Boundary-Similkameen.

“With the challenges we’ve seen across the country for people accessing primary care, government support for our primary care network is more important than ever.

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“With the addition of more health-care professionals and expanding the PCN into more communities in south Okanagan-Similkameen, we are making progress to improve access to health-care services, now and in the future.”

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