As the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre opened on Nov. 5, approximately 60 patients used the new service on its first day.
“We certainly saw quite a bit of demand and interest in our urgent primary care centre,” said Dr. Elizabeth Wiley, the first to work at the centre on opening day. “I think it was a successful day.”
A team of family practitioners, nurse practitioners, office co-ordinators and a mental health substance use clinician help care for a range of health concerns, which could include fevers, trying to determine if an injury is a sprain or a break, and mental health services.
Anyone can go to the clinic, whether or not they have a family physician, but Island Health said you should always contact your care provider or family doctor first. Most physicians leave space in their schedule for patients’ urgent needs as they come up.
“Services are for patients who need urgent access to care, with conditions that should be seen within 12 to 24 hours, but don’t require a visit to the emergency department,” said Deborah Cracknell, Island Health’s director of community health services for Sooke, Esquimalt and West Shore.
At 582 Goldstream Ave., the centre in Langford is one of four newly-opened urgent primary care centres in B.C. and the first on Vancouver Island.
“The western community is one of the fastest growing, if not the fastest growing community in B.C.,” Cracknell said.
As young families move to the area and add to the ageing population, Dr. Dan Horvat, the medical director of western communities for Island Health said they estimate between 15,000 and 30,000 people in the western communities do not have a family physician or primary care provider.
“There’s a significant need that we know needs to be filled,” Horvat said. “This is the first step in a multi-step process to address that need.”
Next steps include connecting patients with care practitioners for long-term care, which Horvat said is critically important.
“This is more about providing a team-based care, more integrated services and we really look forward to working with physicians and the Heath Authority Ministry to make this and the next steps a success,” Horvat said.
On Oct. 26, the province announced its new health care strategy, including 10 urgent care centres as they create a network of primary care throughout B.C.
In the meantime, Wiley said she looks forward to working collaboratively with the other practitioners at the clinic, and that their internal informal referrals, such as to the mental health substance use clinician, may help reach their goal of reducing wait times for services.
The centre will be open on Goldstream Avenue from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Horvat said they aim to have it open 365 days a year.