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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

Despite what Health Minister Adrian Dix says about ... increasing the number of publicly funded health-care professionals ... there are still shortages



So sayeth the government .... People living in Vernon now have better access to team-based everyday health care, with the opening of an urgent and primary care centre.



The new urgent and primary care centre will help connect more people in Vernon and the surrounding communities with the health care they need, when they need it,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.



By increasing the number of publicly funded health-care professionals in the community, thousands of people who currently lack a primary care provider will benefit from increased access to same-day appointments for urgent needs, ongoing primary care and better longitudinal care into the future.”



The Vernon Urgent and Primary Care Centre will recruit general practitioners, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and mental health and substance use clinicians to treat patients in Vernon.




BUT ... what happens when there are not enough medical people to staff these clinics?

For many years, over 20 thousand residents in the City of Kamloops had no regular medical care provider.  They lined up, sometimes for hours in the very early hours of the days, in hopes of getting medical care at one of several Walk-In clinics – and in Kamloops, winter, temperatures average from -7 degrees Celsius to a high of -2 Celsius.



The remedy to the situation was the provinces first Primary Care Centre, established by then BC Liberal Health Minister, and Kamloops MLA, Terry Lake.  With a medical team of doctors, nurses, and medical care practioners, several thousand (myself included), once again had access to regular health care.



Is, however, this concept a victim of its own success?

According to the Interior Health Authority, there are ten Primary Health Care Centres available within Interior Health communities. Primary Health Care Centres have a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to healthcare delivery. Each centre has an interdisciplinary healthcare team that provides a range of services in a single site – i.e. a checkup with your family doctor, a visit to a physiotherapist, pharmacist, or public health nurse. The selection of services offered in each Primary Health Care Centre reflects the unique needs of its community.



The problem was, back in 2017, there were not enough medical personal for people to be able to have one doctor they could see for medical problems – someone who got to know you, your medical history, and where your records were kept for easy reference.  You just went wherever you could get help, and had explain over and over what your history and problem was, to someone new pretty much every time.




Once again though, it seems that despite what Health Minister Adrian Dix says about ... increasing the number of publicly funded health-care professionals ... there are still shortages. And every new clinic that opens, means the number of health care professionals available is going to get spread thinner and thinner.

 
An update, from March 2017, regarding the
new North Shore Primary Care Centre

In Kamloops, where the first Primary Care Center opened, they are now closed most Saturdays, and it now takes weeks to get an appointment. They are facing a staffing shortage of medical personal, and not succeeding in finding people to alleviate the situation.



The result?  One would have to believe that more people will once again return to trying to get in at a walk-in clinic, or to seek medical help at the emergency ward of the hospital.




Primary Care Centres were supposed to end that.  They were, as Health Minister Dix stated, to provide “... increased access to same-day appointments for urgent needs, (and) ongoing primary care ...”.



The NDP’s primary care strategy, to see ... government fund and recruit 200 family doctors and 200 nurse practitioners, and hire 50 clinical pharmacists, is already, at least in Kamloops, hitting a road-block.



Opening more Urgent and Primary Care facilities, if there are not enough medical people to staff them, is going to create a situation where once again tens of thousands of people will NOT have the ability to have access to a medical practitioner, never mind get a same-day appointment.


It’s time to re-assess the situation, look at the numbers of nurses and doctors who will be available to staff these Urgent and Primary Care Centres, and open new ones accordingly.

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