Quesnel and area residents will have increased access to health care when an Urgent Primary Care Centre opens Oct. 31.
Adrian Dix, B.C. Minister of Health, was joined by representatives from Northern Health to make the announcement this morning (Oct. 10) at G.R. Baker Hospital.
The Urgent Primary Care Centre will be located at the Community Health Services site at 543 Front Street, offering appointments to patients including the frail elderly, those with mental health and substance use needs as well as patients without a family physician. There will be drop-in spaces for those who require urgent care but do not need the emergency room.
The centre will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and statutory holidays.
Minister Dix said the centre will be recruiting new staff members so as not to put a strain on Quesnel’s existing health care providers. Doctors, nurses and a nurse practitioner will be available for patients via the centre.
Local physician Dr. Dietrich Furstenburg, who also acts at the Northern Interior rural medicine director, said he and heath care providers in Quesnel had a positive experience working with the Ministry on the project.
“I was worried in the beginning to see how it would work with what we have at the moment,” he said. . “I’m pleased to say we have had a positive experience with the Ministry in being open to suggestions and working with us to fit in with something within our clinic to make sure all the services we provide here work in collaboration with everyone else we do.”
Dr. Furstenburg said they looked at how to staff the model to ensure health care providers are not overworked within the system. “I’m pleased to say the solution that we came up with is very good.”
There is funding for additional staff, significant new funding. There will be a new nurse practitioner, as well as a new GP and potentially other staff… we are going to build out for that. This is a major investment in primary care. Part of the challenge was to make sure we didn’t displace services… we worked very closely with the division of family practices to make sure it works well,” said Minister Dix.
Dix said the new centre will provide resources in key hours when the emergency room is full. “It provides that after-hours extra service for people who can’t get an appointment, and that will supplement the great work done by doctors and nurse practitioners here.”
Health-care providers at the centre will be connected with a variety of services and programs, making it easier for patients to receive follow-up care and access to other services they may need. For example, the Urgent Primary Care Centre will make sure seniors are connected with appropriate community supports to help them safely stay at home longer, explained a press release.
The centre is the third such centre to open in B.C. as part of the province’s new primary heath care strategy, and has been allocated $1.1 million in annual funding. The other centres are in Kamloops and Surrey.
Dix said he hopes within a year to see less traffic in the emergency room, more residents attached to family doctors, and people getting more rapid access to various services.
“We’re pleased that the new Quesnel Urgent Primary Care centre is opening later this month to serve residents of Quesnel and the surrounding area. This new, co-located service will provide much-needed access to primary care for people in this region, including those, such as seniors, who may have specific care needs that require additional community supports,” said Colleen Nyce, chair of the Northern Health board.
The Urgent Primary Care Centre will operate from the Community Health Services area of G.R. Baker Hospital, utilizing unused space, said Andrea Palmer, Northern Health’s regional manager of public affairs & media relations.