Wednesday April 22, 2020 ~ VICTORIA
by Mary Brooke ~ West Shore Voice News
Today April 22, Premier John Horgan was pleased to announce the third Urgent and Primary Care Centre for Vancouver Island. It will be located in the James Bay area of downtown Victoria behind the BC Legislature.
The opening is set for April 27 said Horgan in a media session today, though Island Health sent out a news release later saying April 28.
Victoria residents will have better access to team-based care with the opening of the new James Bay facility, it is stated in the Island Health release, which will benefit tens of thousands of people annually in the downtown area of the province’s capital city.
“We’re making progress on better, faster health care for people across the province, which is even more important during this challenging and uncertain time,” Horgan was quoted in a release.
The James Bay Urgent and Primary Care Centre will be operated by Island Health at the James Bay Community Project, 547 Michigan Street. The UPCC will offer a variety of primary care services including drop-in services and rapid access to mental health and substance use services provided by a team of general practitioners, nurse practitioners, nurses and mental health and substance use clinicians.
“Urgent and primary care centres provide a team-based approach that improves access to same-day care while reducing congestion at emergency departments,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more critical to protect our health-care system and our staff. The new UPCC in James Bay will help to divert even more patients with non-urgent issues such as sprains, minor cuts or burns from local emergency rooms, while still providing them with the comprehensive care they need.”
As part of the clinic launch during this unusual time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during its first week. After May 3 the hours will be expanded to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“I know how hard it can be for many people in James Bay and surrounding areas to find a family doctor and I am proud that our government is making a difference in the lives of people in the community by making team-based, comprehensive primary care a priority in B.C.,” said Carole James who is the MLA for Victoria–Beacon Hill which includes James Bay.
“This UPCC, which is a first in Victoria, will bring much needed services to local residents while helping to reduce congestion at the emergency departments in our region,” said Minister James, who is the Finance Minister for BC.
The other two UPCC’s on Vancouver Island are in Langford and Nanaimo.
Opening in October 2018, the Langford UPCC has since served more than 35,000 patient visits; at the time of opening, Island Health said there were 30,000 people in the west shore region without a family doctor. In Nanaimo the UPCC opened in September 2019 and has received approximately 25,000 patient visits.
Despite asking for expanded medical facilities for years, Sooke is not on the list for a UPCC but in 2019 received additional funding from the BC Government for additional medical staffing at an existing clinic that is owned privately by a group of local physicians.
Currently, due to COVID-19, people are asked to call ahead when possible. If someone does arrive unannounced, a patient ambassador will be located at the entrance of the UPCC to help determine the best way to support the patient through either a virtual or in-person visit.
If a patient presents at the clinic with COVID-19-like symptoms and needs to be seen in person, they will be connected to the Victoria COVID-19 assessment clinic for further care. Should an in-person visit not be required, they will be seen by way of virtual care.
In addition to improving access to same-day care, the James Bay UPCC will provide ongoing primary care through booked appointments. In the future, the UPCC will work to attach patients to primary-care providers.
“The current public health emergency is redirecting key Island Health resources to support COVID-19 planning and response,” says Island Health Board Chair Leah Hollins. “As such, current requirements related to physical distancing and availability of key health-care providers have impacted Island Health’s short term plans to provide attachment to primary care providers at the James Bay UPCC. In the meantime, the facility is ready to serve members of the Victoria community with extended hours of care, 365 days a year.”