Team-based family medical clinic opens in Penticton

Innovative new clinic opens

It’s an entirely new way to deliver healthcare in the South Okanagan. 

The region’s first team-based family medicine clinic held a grand opening Friday in Penticton. 

The newly-renovated Ponderosa Primary Care Centre brings privately-practicing family doctors under the same roof as specialists such as dieticians and social workers, along with nurse practitioners. 

“In the past when you came into your provider, whether it's a GP or nurse practitioner, they’ve... been your dietician, your OT (occupational therapist), they’ve given you exercises for your sore back,” said Dr. Tim Phillips, physician lead for the SOS Division of Family Practice. 

“Some are really good at those things, and some aren’t,” Dr. Phillips said, later cracking a joke that he’s a “pretty good GP, but a pretty crummy dietician.” 

The new team-based centre will allow family doctors and nurse practitioners to focus on the “medicine part of things” while handing other issues to healthcare professionals who have specialized training. 

The Ponderosa Centre is not a walk in clinic, so for now, only patients attached to one of the family doctors and nurse practitioners at the clinic can take advantage of the team-based medicine. 

But it’s hoped Ponderosa will be the first of many team-based clinics in the region, which will in turn help attract new doctors to the community.

“The new residents and family doctors coming in want to work in group practices, they want to be well supported,” said Dr. Jennifer Begin, one of the GPs at the clinic. “So we thought, if we don’t have that already, let’s build it.”

Health minister Adrian Dix sent the grand opening Friday a message of congratulations.

“The success of the South Okanagan-Similkameen is an inspiring model for primary care networks throughout B.C., and one that I often raise as an example of extraordinary transformational change being driven at the local level,” he said. “In only a few months, residents are already seeing the results of collaboration and are benefitting from it.”

Those still without a family doctor in the South Okanagan are encouraged to sign up on the SOS Division of Family Practice's wait list. They will be connected with a new primary care provider as soon as one is available.

Ponderosa is open Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and from 8 a. m. to 4 p. m. on Fridays. The clinic has plans to be open on weekends by spring 2020.

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