Over 1,100 connected with a primary care provider in 6 months

Healthcare access improves

Efforts and new funding to connect patients to family doctors in the South Okanagan and Similkameen are paying off, with more than 1,100 people connected with a primary health care provider in the past six months. 

“I feel so incredibly lucky,” said Jan Kostek, who located a family doctor by signing up on the SOS Division of Family Practice regional waitlist. 

“Finding health care was one of our biggest concerns moving here from Edmonton,” she says. “We’d heard about the physician shortage, and we had no connections.”

Anyone looking for a family doctor or nurse practitioner in the South Okanagan Similkameen is urged to register using the centralized waitlist. 

“I read about the list in the newspaper, so I went online and filled out the application,” she explains. “My husband and I got a call while shopping. We were told we’d been placed with a provider and a first appointment was booked. We were thrilled!”

Kostek was placed with NP Kimberly Hayter, one of three new family practice nurse practitioners hired into the region as a part of the provincial government's new Primary Care Network funding. Nurse practitioners have graduate degrees and family medicine training, and are able to provide all primary care services with the exception of obstetrics.

The SOS Division of Family Practice says it is also working to attract new physicians and nurse practitioners to the region. Successes include hiring a new physician through an international graduate program and partnering with young physicians graduating from UBC. The region is one of the first to move to a new team-based model of care. 

Those without access to a computer are encouraged to ask a friend to help them sign up on the centralized list. The list cannot provide waitlist time-length estimates, but patients can check back periodically to see what month of sign up is being addressed.

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