West Kelowna  

Urgent care centre closer?

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom believes the province is close to deciding where an urgent care centre will be located in the Central Okanagan.

He made that pronouncement after a meeting last week with Health Minister Adrian Dix in Victoria.

"I get a sense they are pretty close to making a decision," Milsom told Castanet.

Milsom, who took office in November, spent a few days in the provincial capital getting to know key ministers.

Following his meeting with Dix, Milsom says he now has a better handle of what the province has planned for health care in B.C.

The city has been lobbying for about a decade in hopes of getting improved medical services, including an urgent care centre.

"He (Dix) added a lot of clarity as to the direction the government is heading," said Milsom.

"They want to support general physicians in the way of additional health professionals, adding nurse practitioners and professionals that are specialists in fields such as mental health. They are focused on building teams to support prime care deliverers."

Milsom says one of those is the introduction of a urgent care centres.

The province has committed to 10 such centres across the province. Some have already opened in Kamloops, Greater Victoria, Surrey and Vancouver. They have been placed close to major hospitals, in existing buildings with other related health services.

It's believed one will be opened in the Central Okanagan, however, the ministry has yet to announce whether that will be in Kelowna or West Kelowna.

"Whether we see an urgent care centre in West Kelowna, we just don't know."

Milsom did touch on a second health care delivery model being floated by the minister, a primary care network.

He says they discussed health care needs over and above what family doctors and walk-in-clinics provide.

Milsom says the province is planning to roll out 15 of those in the coming years.

"As far as I'm concerned, for West Kelowna, we do have shortfalls as far as certain types of health care needs, mental health and substance abuse issues, chronic pain management," he said.

"If they can be managed through the primary care network just as well as through an urgent care centre, that's good."

As for next steps, the mayor says he would like to meet with Interior Health to understand what they see for the Greater Westside, and local physicians to find out the best approach for the city.

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