B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix is promising to hire 68 new health care workers, including 10 general practitioners and 10 nurse practitioners in Burnaby, as it rolls out its new health care strategy.
The workers, who will be recruited over the next three years, will work in a newly-announced urgent and primary care centre (UPCC) and three new primary care networks (PCN).
The NDP government promised to implement UPCCs as a part of its 2017 election campaign. The facilities are intended to take stress off of hospital ERs while providing patients with same-day access to doctors and nurses.
“About three-quarters of a million people, 750,000 people at present… do not have family practice doctor or nurse practitioner, and that is a significant problem for them,” said Dix.
“Many of the people who don’t have access to basic, every day health care have significant needs, frail elderly, mental health and addiction needs, pre and post-natal care needs … so those needs, every day needs are critical. And we have a response to that.”
The response, said Dix, is the “team-based” approach offered through the establishment of UPCCs and now PCNs.
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The new PCNs will consist of a network of 45 existing primary care clinics and 133 general practitioners, along with registered nurses, clinicians, social workers and pharmacists.
Dix said these networks will work to attach tens of thousands of patients who currently don’t have a doctor to a primary care provider, without requiring them to visit a walk-in clinic or emergency room for everyday needs.
“We want people to be able to get the care in their communities and not end up in the emergency department because they have no options,” said Dix.
Dix said it was too early to say how what kind of effect previously established UPCCs were having on attaching people to services or reducing visits to emergency rooms.
The PCNs will be located in Metrotown, Edmonds and the Brentwood/Hastings areas, with a fourth PCN planned for Lougheed in the future.
Once fully established, the Burnaby UPCC and a facility in the Metrotown PCN will also host “incubators,” where experienced doctors mentor new family physicians.
When it opens at 7315 Edmonds St. in May, the Burnaby UPCC will be the sixth of 12 such facilities in the province.
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Dix said the province will provide $12 million in annual funding to the new Burnaby health assets by their third year in operation.
As a part of its primary-care plan, the NDP government has pledged to hire 200 family doctors and 200 nurse practitioners across B.C.