The B.C. government is fulfilling a major campaign promise by opening the first urgent primary-care centre in the province by November.
Premier John Horgan announced the new Surrey Urgent Primary Care Centre will be integrated into the current Fraser Health network and will ease the burden on local emergency rooms.
“We are making innovative changes to public health care so that it works for British Columbians, providing them with timely, effective care in their communities,” Horgan said. “By opening urgent primary-care centres in all of the health regions, we are delivering on our promise to improve quality of care, and provide more care to more people.”
The Surrey care centre will be one of 10 new urgent primary-care centres pledged to be opened in the province. There are currently close to 78,000 people in Surrey who do not have a family doctor and currently rely on drop-in clinics or emergency rooms.
The centre will have four doctors and a team of nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other health-care professionals. At full staffing, the centre will be able to accommodate up to 1,300 unique patient visits per week.
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“Team-based care is the future of health care, and will be the standard for primary care throughout B.C.,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Urgent primary-care centres are part of an overhaul of the way British Columbians access day-to-day health care. One in six people in this province don’t have a doctor. For too long, over half of the people living in B.C. have been unable to get same-day or next-day appointments with their primary-care providers. It’s time for families to have easier and improved access to health care.”
The province has promised to have all 10 urgent primary-care centres open within the next 12 months. The Surrey centre will be open 12 hours a day and will focus on lacerations, earaches, back pain, and sore throats and other ailments that are often dealt with in emergency rooms.
“If you have doubt that it is sufficiently serious, you should go to the E.R. But about 25 per cent of the people who go to the ER know they don’t need to go to the ER. The advantage of this is the attachment to the community,” Dix said. “If you have a small cut, this would be a place to come. I think people understand they don’t always have to go to the ER.”