Saturday June 12, 2021 | ESQUIMALT, BC [maps added June 13,2021]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
After many other urgent primary care centre (UPCC) facilities have opened up in recent years around British Columbia under the NDP government, Esquimalt is finally getting theirs. The permanent location at 890 Esquimalt Road will open in December 2021.
Esquimalt’s UPCC was on the list, but others came first.
On a slow news day today, Saturday on a summer weekend, the Esquimalt UPCC was announced; this comes after a preliminary announcement in August 2020.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins is pleased (in the wake of her mention of the new clinic on May 28 in her Esquimalt Mayor lunchtime online Zoom chat with the community): “The opening of an Esquimalt Urgent and Primary Care Centre means residents can access health care and family doctors within their own community. The estimated 4,000 to 7,000 people within a family doctor can be reduced significantly.”
“A keystone for a healthy community is access to medical services,” Desjardins told Island Social Trends today. “This has been a council priority and we are grateful to the province for working with us to achieve this facility.”
Also pleased is Mitzi Dean who is the NDP MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin. “This is a great new step for our community in Esquimalt,” said Dean.
The announcement was pumped up by Health Minister Adrian Dix on Twitter this morning. He said the new clinic “will help connect more people in this community with the team-based and comprehensive health care they need”.
“The centre will be a permanent fixture in the community,” said Dix. “It will help address gaps in everyday health care and support a long-term relationship between patients and their health-care providers – bringing health care in this region closer to home.”
UPCC’s provide access to comprehensive team-based primary health care. It’s also a health system mechanism for ‘attaching people to a doctor’ as BC still suffers from a shortage of doctors for the growing population. Many family physicians have retired in recent years, and new younger doctors often prefer to work within the clinic system as a way to maintain some work-life balance.
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 followup and connect to other services they may need.
Opening in two phases:
The UPCC will open in two phases to better provide urgent and primary care services to the people living in the region.
- Starting Monday, June 14, 2021, the centre’s temporary site in the Esquimalt Health Unit at 530 Fraser St. will provide limited health-care services, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- Once the centre opens in its permanent location in December 2021, hours of operation will be extended to include evenings and weekends, and it will offer a full range of comprehensive health-care services. This includes care to people who need to see a primary health-care provider and who do not require a trip to the emergency department or specialized services. The centre will be supported by a team of health-care professionals that is expected to include family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, allied health professionals and office staff.
Once the full UPCC opens, patients requiring laboratory testing beyond the simple specimen collection will be provided with requisitions for lab tests to be completed at nearby laboratories.
More information about the Esquimalt UPCC is on the Island Health website.
Team approach to health-care:
It is anticipated that the health-care team at the temporary site will include a registered nurse, a registered nurse with certified practice, a mental health and substance-use consultant and two office staff.
The team will provide services to patients with minor ailments, those who need health screening, reproductive health services and support for those with chronic conditions and mild to moderate mental-health challenges.
Services will be provided by appointment only. For more information, visit the Esquimalt Urgent & Primary Care Centre webpage.
BC Health defines primary care as the day-to-day health-care given by a health-care provider.
Embedding mental health care:
“Embedding mental health and addictions care into UPPCs across B.C. is vital to removing stigma and barriers to care,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “I’m encouraged that, along with so many other B.C. communities, people in Esquimalt and the surrounding area will now be able to connect to the mental health and addictions supports they need and deserve.”
Getting attached to a doctor or NP:
As doctors and nurse practitioners are recruited, the UPCC will work to attach patients to a family physician or a nurse practitioner, either at the centre or in the community.
A few years ago (when the Westshore UPCC opened in Langford) it was revealed that about 30,000 people were without a family doctor in the broader west shore region (including Langford, Colwood, Esquimalt, View Royal, Sooke, and Metchosin).
Based on 2019-20 Ministry of Health data, there are approximately 3,500 Esquimalt residents not attached to a primary care provider or clinic, or approximately 18.7% of the population.
At this time, the temporary Esquimalt UPCC will not be offering attachment to a primary care provider (Physician or Nurse Practitioner). Once the permanent Esquimalt Urgent and Primary Care Centre opens, planned for December 2021, a full complement of primary care services will be available including access to an expanded health care team.
Leased by Island Health:
The UPCC will be leased and operated by Island Health, with capital funding provided by the Ministry of Health and the Capital Regional Hospital District.
The size of the permanent location is about 344 sq m (3,700 sq ft) and will include a reception, waiting area, exam rooms, counselling rooms, office spaces and a multi-purpose room.
One of many:
To date, five urgent and primary care centres have been announced in the Island Health region, including in the Westshore, Nanaimo, James Bay, Esquimalt and North Quadra. The centre in Esquimalt will be part of the Western Communities Primary Care Network, announced in September 2020.
Once fully operational, the Western Communities Primary Care Network, which the Esquimalt UPCC will be part of, will provide a full range of accessible, everyday health services that will better support patients and providers.
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.
===== RELATED ARTICLES by Island Social Trends:
New urgent primary care centre in the works for Esquimalt (August 4, 2020)
New urgent & primary care centre to open in downtown Victoria (April 22, 2020)
Nanaimo getting an urgent primary care centre (April 3, 2019)
Langford gives permanent tax break to medical offices (October 27, 2018)
New urgent primary care health centre in Langford to open November 5 (October 26, 2018)
===== About the writer:
Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., maintains a focus on health and politics of the west shore and south Vancouver Island. Her publication now operating as Island Social Trends started as MapleLine Magazine in 2008, became weekly as Sooke Voice News in 2011, morphing to West Shore Voice News weekly and online in 2014, and then becoming the fully online Island Social Trends in August 2020.
===== BC Government Links:
More about the Province’s primary health-care strategy: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010
More about the Province’s strategy to increase the number of nurse practitioners: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0034-000995
More about the Province’s strategy to recruit and retain more family medicine graduates: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0052-001043