Monday December 6, 2021 | ESQUIMALT, BC [Updated December 7, 2021]
[Below is a BC Government news release posted in full]
[Previous article: Two-phase opening for Esquimalt urgent & primary care centre – June 12, 2021]
People in Esquimalt and neighbouring communities now have access to more comprehensive everyday health care with the opening of the Esquimalt urgent and primary care centre (UPCC).
Its permanent new location is at 890 Esquimalt Rd.
“A new, permanent location for primary care in Esquimalt means that more people will have expanded access to the team-based, comprehensive health care they need,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health in a statement from the ministry. “This is an example of our primary care strategy at work, increasing and improving access to everyday primary health care throughout the province.”
The UPCC will serve two purposes. The first will be providing care for people experiencing non-life-threatening conditions, such as an ankle sprain or a sore throat, who need to see a health-care provider within 12 to 24 hrs, but do not require an emergency department visit. The second purpose will be attaching patients to a regular primary care provider if they do not have one.
There is a consultation area for the multi-disciplinary health-care team they can collaborate in real-time about a patient who may still be at the clinic. This was noted, particularly by local MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin) who is Minister of Children and Family Development.
Lessons from the pandemic:
Minister Dean says the new UPCC in Esquimalt shows some lessons learned from the pandemic.
Island Health’s guidance resulted in having one examination room that has a separate entrance from outside the building, while care professionals enter the room after having used a sanitization station. This “isolation room” setup allows for patient care without necessarily exposing others in the clinic.
This means that people who have been exposed to COVID or another infection can still get service. “It’s safe for staff and the patient,” says Dean.
This is a new structural building feature that isn’t, for example, available at the West Shore UPCC in Langford.
Opening in a phased approach, a team of 11 full-time equivalent (FTE) health-care workers, including physicians, nurses, mental health and substance use consultants, and social workers, is providing urgent care at the centre seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including statutory holidays. The centre is open for people who need to see a health-care provider within 12 to 24 hours, but do not require a level of service available in an emergency department. Services include diagnosis and treatment of illness, screening and chronic disease management.
Anyone is invited to access the Esquimalt UPCC for same day, urgent care or non-life-threatening conditions. Due to COVID-19, patients are asked to call ahead when possible. Starting at 8 a.m. each day, people can call to secure an urgent care appointment as required. Patients who do not have access to a telephone can attend in person and, after 8:30 a.m., will be added to the registration queue when they arrive.
Once fully operational, comprehensive primary care and patient attachment services will also be available to help attach local residents who do not have a regular doctor or nurse practitioner to a primary care provider. The UPCC’s full team is anticipated to include approximately 23 FTE health-care providers, such as family physicians, registered nurses and allied health professionals, including social workers and mental-health and substance-use counsellors.
“This is great news for people in Esquimalt, whose health will benefit from the expanded services and extended hours at the new home for our UPCC,” said MLA Dean. “More people will get timely treatment at the clinic and those who don’t have a regular primary care provider can get help securing one.”
Dean notes that a nurse, a counsellor and GP will be available on every shift.
Operated by Island Health:
Island Health will continue to operate the UPCC with the support of the Ministry of Health and the Capital Regional Hospital District. It is a part of the Western Communities Primary Care Network.
This is one of the 26 UPCCs announced under the government’s primary care strategy. To date, six UPCCs have been announced in the Island Health region, including Westshore, Nanaimo, James Bay (Victoria), North Quadra (Victoria), Downtown Victoria and Esquimalt.
- Primary care is the day-to-day health care given by a health-care provider.
- UPCCs are part of a comprehensive strategy to transform B.C.’s health system by bringing together and co-ordinating with health-care providers, services and programs to make it easier for people to access care, receive follow-up and connect to other services they may need.
- Primary care networks were developed as part of B.C.’s primary care strategy to better meet the specific needs of the community and to strengthen high priority services.
To learn more about the Province’s Primary Health-care Strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010
To learn more about the Province’s strategy to increase the number of nurse practitioners, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0034-000995
To learn more about the Province’s strategy to recruit and retain more family medicine graduates, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0052-001043
A backgrounder follows.
What people are saying about the Esquimalt UPCC
Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health –
“We are delighted the permanent Esquimalt Urgent and Primary Care Centre is now open. We are grateful to our partners and to the dedicated Esquimalt UPCC team who have been working tirelessly to prepare the new site to receive patients and provide comprehensive, compassionate, culturally safe urgent and primary care.”
Dr. Matthew Chow, president, Doctors of BC –
“We look forward to the integration of Esquimalt Urgent and Primary Care Centre in hopes it will strengthen primary care in the community. Doctors of BC has a strong interest in ensuring people have access to the health-care services they need. We also emphasize the importance of measures that strengthen the long-term relationships between patients and their family doctor. These relationships have been shown to improve health outcomes, help avoid preventable illness and reduce the cost of health care.”
Michael Sandler, executive director, Association of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC –
“Nurses and nurse practitioners of B.C. are pleased to see that the knowledge, skills and expertise of the entire health-care team will be utilized to improve access to health care for all British Columbians through urgent and primary care clinics. We believe that this approach will be pivotal in ensuring B.C. families can access health-care services, and we are excited to see the opening of another urgent and primary care clinic in B.C.”
Denise Blackwell, chair, Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD) –
“The CRHD is pleased to see the Esquimalt UPCC creating more care options that are needed in our communities and is proud to contribute as part of our commitment to improving and sustaining health infrastructure in the region.”
Dr. Vanessa Young, board chair, South Island Division of Family Practice –
“The South Island Division of Family Practice is pleased that an urgent and primary care centre has opened in Esquimalt. We anticipate the new health-care professionals at the Esquimalt UPCC will fill part of the longitudinal primary-care gap in the South Island. As a key resource in advancing our primary care strategy within South Island Division communities; we look forward to working closely with our health authority, the Ministry of Health, local First Nations and patient partners.”
Layton Engwer, patient partner –
“This permanent centre will provide non-emergency care for our residents and evolve to attach citizens once the clinic is fully staffed. It will come to a point that we will not have to travel to other communities to see a physician/nurse practitioner or a member of the clinic’s health team. This in turn will reduce our trips to the emergency and long waits to be treated for a concern, which is less than life threatening.”