Primary Care Network adding health care workers

Healthcare workforce grows

Primary Care Networks in the South Okanagan have grown since $4.4M in funding was announced by BC Health Minister Adrian Dix in April of 2019.

The investment promised funding for the hiring of six new general practitioners, five nurse practitioners and 11 other healthcare professionals to work in the region.

It’s been more than a year since the announcement, and Castanet has confirmed that a number of healthcare providers have been brought in to help patients in the South Okanagan and Similkameen.

“Five new nurse practitioners have been hired in our region. Two are working in existing family medicine clinics, as a part of creating team-based care, and helping more patients receive primary care. Two are splitting their time between the new Ponderosa Primary Care Centre and the Snxastwilxtn Health Centre. One is working with Martin Street Outreach Centre providers,” stated Heather Allen, communications lead with the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice. “Nine new family physicians have begun working in the area over the past year. However, these came to the community through SOS Division of Family Practice and other recruitment efforts, and not through Primary Care Network funding.”

One family physician is working in regular community practice, the rest are locums or working in episodic care — such as caring for patients at the hospital who do not have a regular family physician.

“Ten healthcare professionals have been hired in the region through Primary Care Network funding in the past year.” added Allen. “This figure includes two registered nurses, a social worker, a dietitian, occupational therapist and two physiotherapists at the Ponderosa Primary Care Centre. Three social workers are working in other family medicine clinics in Penticton and Summerland.”

Ponderosa Clinic began offering weekend hours in January, 2020.

“The Centre currently has six family physicians, two nurse practitioners, two registered nurses, a social worker, a dietitian, occupational therapist and two physiotherapists working as a team to provide patient care. Ponderosa also houses two specialist physicians,” said Allen. “Ponderosa patients are asked to continue to call if they require a healthcare appointment. They will be accommodated with a by-phone, by-video or with an in-person appointment as required. 

The SOS Division of Family Practice has connected many patients with a doctor since opening.

“To date, more than 3,600 patients have been attached in Penticton, Summerland and Okanagan Falls alone, with more attachment ongoing throughout the region. Approximately 6,000 patients are on the waitlist, with patients being attached almost daily. Patients have been attached to new providers, but also to existing providers in the community,” said Allen. “In addition to the waitlist, the SOS Division helps existing clinics with concerns such as improving office workflow and transitioning to working in teams, which can lead to established providers being able to take on more patients. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients are still being attached through the SOS Division Patient Attachment List. 

Patients looking for a provider can put their name on the waitlist should click here.

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