October 2, 2018 1:44 pm
Updated: October 2, 2018 8:06 pm

Town of Osoyoos studying potential health care centre

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A new feasibility study delves into the question of whether the town of Osoyoos needs, and can support, a community health centre.

Commission by the town, the study is 112 pages and examines several topics, such as approach and methodology, health care funding, objectives, the area’s population, space requirements and potential site options.

The five site options are 89th Street (Sagebrush Lodge); along Spartan Drive; Maple Drive; Main Street; and 89th Street-Nighthawk Drive.

The five potential sites that the feasibility study identified.

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Costs have yet to be determined, but the five scenarios are pegged with assumptions between $215 and $275 per square foot. The scenarios are also widely varied. For example, in scenario 1A, the town buys land from Interior Health, demolishes the Sagebrush Lodge and constructs a new building. In Scenario 4, a section of vacant land that the town owns, a new building is constructed, which serves as a clinic while also offering leasing opportunities as well.

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“The Osoyoos Community Health Centre Feasibility Study was commissioned by Osoyoos council and it will be up to council to decide their next steps,” Interior Health told Global News. “The first Urgent Primary Care Centre in Interior Health opened in Kamloops in June. Interior Health is interested in working with all of our communities on primary care network planning. The work involves partners that include the Divisions of Family Practice and local Aboriginal groups who are helping lead and develop local primary care initiatives, which would include urgent primary services.”

The report says “the popularity of Osoyoos as a resort community sees the summer population swell to numbers near 20,000. The winter resident population is enhanced by 1,200 “snowbirds” that take residency for two to six months. As a result of its growing popularity, the Town of Osoyoos has experienced a need to plan for expanding its services including delivery of healthcare services. Currently, the local healthcare services are delivered primarily through family practitioners operating in two medical clinics, the Desert Doctors Clinic and the Osoyoos Medical Centre.”

“In addition to the physician’s clinic, there is a public health unit operated by Interior Health, located at a facility called the Sagebrush Lodge, at the intersection of Highway 97 and 89th Street. The residents of Osoyoos also depend on the hospital services and emergency care provided at the South Okanagan General Hospital located in the Town of Oliver, 20 kilometres from Osoyoos.”

Another potential site that the feasibility study identified.

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In regards to the study, the Ministry of Health stated “we appreciate the work that the community of Osoyoos has done in commissioning this report and look forward to receiving it. We are happy to work with them to increase their health care capacity. In fact, collaborating with communities to find local solutions to best meet their community’s health needs will be an integral part of our success.

“The South Okanagan Similkameen is one of the first five communities working to establish networks in B.C.  The growth plan for their Primary Care Network includes developing a network in the rural communities of the South Okanagan Similkameen, including Osoyoos. Achieving better coordinated care, attaching patients to a primary care provider, reducing hospitalizations and physician visits while improving outcomes for people and patients with chronic diseases are priorities we share with the community of Osoyoos, but are not solely achieved through urgent primary care centres.”

The report says a care-needs assessment was done, and that it provided the following findings:

  • A large percentage of the population in the Southern Okanagan is an aging senior one. Over the coming years, it can be expected to impact the supports and services needed in the community. The health care requirements of this aging population will place pressure on the regional health care system. The system must respond with the provision of local health care services in Osoyoos that reflect the aging population and address service demand pressures placed on surrounding communities.
  • Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS) 4 and 5 emergency department visits (defined as ‘less urgent’ and ‘non-urgent’) are dramatically higher at South Okanagan General Hospital SOGH in Oliver, 20 kilometres away from Osoyoos. The proposed primary care clinic with capacity to manage Urgent Care presents an opportunity to shift CTAS 4 and 5 emergency department utilization away from SOGH and thereby relieve service demand pressure.
  • The complexity of home care needs and services provided in the region also appears to be growing, providing further support for a primary care clinic in Osoyoos. • The prevalence of chronic disease, which is higher in the Southern Okanagan compared to the rest of B.C., is likely to have an impact on services provided at a primary health care clinic.
  • The B.C. Ministry of Health is moving towards an integrated health system for primary and community care. The government has recently announced its intention to create 10 new Urgent Primary Care Centres (UPCC) in the province over the next 12 months. Fundamental to this is the delivery of primary care services by interdisciplinary teams.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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