RDOS votes to not fund new primary care clinics

No funding for docs, clinics

The Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District has voted not to wade into funding primary care clinics as part of a bid to attract family physicians to the region. 

At its meeting Thursday, the board heard a staff recommendation to decline to get involved with clinics and stick with their current funding model, which involves receiving lists of potential hospital projects from Interior Health and providing 40 per cent of the money for them if approved. 

The thought of funding primary care clinics came about in response to a growing need for physicians in the region. 

"This all started with the best of intentions way back in 2019,” CAO Bill Newell said. 

"If we want do do it, we can find a way to do it. But what the board has to decide is do you want to spend property taxes to fund physician recruitment ... To me, it did not appear from our previous discussions that there was that interest."

Board directors mulled the decision, with some in favour and some opposed. 

"Over and over we have talked about whether we want to get into the business of this,” Area I Apex/Kaleden director Subrina Monteith said. “I really believe we need to reach out to the residents and ask what they want of us."

Area D Okanagan Falls director Ron Obirek pushed for more advocacy at a provincial level. 

“I want to support more thought, more information, doing something,” Obirek said. “We’re going to be overlooked if we do nothing.”

Katie Robinson, director from Penticton, agreed, and strongly opposed the RDOS funding primary care centres. 

"I believe that this issue a provincial responsibility. The province has the jurisdiction to fund clinics. This is not our jurisdiction or our responsibility," she said. 

“We are on a very slippery slope if we allow this downloading [of responsibility]."

Ultimately, the board voted to maintain their current financial model. Discussion indicated that the issue could be reexamined at a later date if need arises. 

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