A new urgent and primary care centre has officially opened in Kelowna.
The grand opening of the facility at the corner of Harvey Avenue and Gordon Drive is expected to improve access to health care.
“We’ve had some success with this model,” said B.C.’s health minister Adrian Dix. “We’ve been operating in Kamloops for more than a year and Quesnel and Prince George and Surrey and Langford, and we’ve had tens of thousands of visits in those communities since it began and it’s been working.”
Dix was one of the dignitaries on hand at the grand opening Thursday morning.
This is the third urgent care centre to open within the Interior Health Authority, with the other two located in Vernon and Kamloops.
The centre will bring together a variety of medical professionals including doctors, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and social workers.
Dix said there are several benefits to a facility of this kind, including providing health-care access to patients without a family doctor.
“Thousands of area residents who currently lack a primary-care provider will benefit from increased access to same-day appointments for urgent needs and ongoing primary care, as well as being able to find a doctor or care provider for regular, ongoing primary care,” Dix said.
It’s estimated that around 33,000 people in the Central Okanagan alone are without a family doctor.
To hep reduce those numbers, the centre will aim to attach patients to health care providers in the community in collaboration with the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice.
Unattached patients will be provided with ongoing wraparound care on an interim basis, while arranging for patients to be connected to other local practices for their care.
The centre will operate seven days a week, 365 days a year and will be open during evening hours improving access to health care at all times of the day.
“We sometimes don’t get hurt between 9 and 5 in the day,” Dix said. “We get hurt on weekends and we get hurt in the evenings so we will be able to extend out care from that.”
The centre is also expected to alleviate some pressure on an already strained emergency ward at Kelowna General Hospital.
“People who know that they probably shouldn’t be in the emergency room but end up in the emergency because there is no other door open to them, all of those people will benefit,” Dix said.
Discussions are underway to open more such urgent care centres throughout the valley including West Kelowna and Lake Country.