Home Business & Economy Health Care Sector Westshore Urgent Primary Care shifts to appointment booking by phone

Westshore Urgent Primary Care shifts to appointment booking by phone

Call-in process starts at 8 am daily but still no guarantees.

westshore, urgent primary care, clinic
Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre at 582 Goldstream Avenue in Langford. [Island Health]

Monday March 18, 2024 | LANGFORD, BC [Updated April 5, 2024]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

On March 4, 2024 the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre (WUPCC) switched to a phone-in appointment system.

That’s instead of people having to line up in the parking lot starting ahead of 8 am, only to possibly find they can’t even get in for a medical appointment.

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Treatment room at the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre [file photo: 2018 / West Shore Voice News]

Even with the phone-in system, appointments can only be made for same-day, and must start with a phone call at 8 am.

Apparently the wait time on hold can be up to one hour, before a receptionist can take the potential patient’s incoming call. There are only so many phone lines, and not all calls will have success getting through, according to the clinic’s voice mail.

Last to switch:

The Westshore UPCC is the last of the Greater Victoria area UPCCs to switch to a phone-in system, according to Island Health. This was done after taking a survey of clinic patients.

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Open daily:

The WUPCC is open every day from 8 am to 8 pm. Starting at 8 a.m. each day, people can call the WUPCC (250-519-6919) to arrange same-day access to urgent care, as required. 

Parking is available free for three hours in the on-site parking lot. Bus service is available along Goldstream Avenue.

Health Minister’s comment:

This past week Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a media session that he was glad to hear about the change to the phone-in booking system. He noted that WUPCC is one of the busiest UPCC’s in the system.

Dix added a somewhat unsubstantiated comment that ‘most people who go to the clinic already have a primary caregiver’ but are seeking use of the clinic ‘after hours’ or for sudden emergent needs.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix in Vancouver on Jan 9, 2024 with Premier David Eby and Dr Cailey Lynch, announcing free at-home HPV testing for cervical cancer. [Livestream]

The government’s own numbers still show that about 900,000 people in BC are not attached to a family doctor or primary health care provider.

Attachment to a doctor:

It is widely known that many people in BC do not have a family doctor or primary care provider to whom they are ‘attached’. For the last few years there has been a rapidly increasing population in BC compounded by a shift by many General Practitioners to choose other area of medicine for their practice.

When someone is attached, they have a designated primary care provider in a clinic who does follow up and storage of their confidential medical records.

Even with the Health Connect Registry accepting names of people who wish to be connected with a family doctor, the backlog continues. Health Minister Adrian Dix has explained in the past year that family doctors will want to choose their own spectrum of patients, especially new doctors building a new career profile. So this doesn’t necessarily see seniors and others without doctors for a long time as being at the front of the queue for doctor selection.

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Team-based services:

The WUPCC offers a variety of primary care services. The health care team includes:

  • Family physicians
  • Registered nurses
  • Mental health and substance use consultants (by referral from a family physician at the WS UPCC)
  • Social Worker

“Everyone is welcome to access the Westshore Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) for urgent access to primary care services,” as stated on the WUPCC webpage within the Island Health website.

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The Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre is located at 104-582 Goldstream Ave in Langford. [Google map]
john horgan, adrian dix, mitzi dean, westshore, urgent primary care
Official opening of the Westshore Urgent Primary Care Centre on October 26, 2018 (from left): local MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin), then Premier John Horgan; Health Minister Adrian Dix; and then Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy. [Mary P Brooke / West Shore Voice News]

Other clinics:

Other Island Health Urgent Primary Care Centre locations in the Greater Victoria are listed by Island Health as:

  • James Bay Urgent Primary Care Centre – Victoria
  • Esquimalt Urgent Primary Care Centre – Esquimalt
  • Downtown Victoria Urgent and Primary Care Centre – Victoria
  • North Quadra Urgent Primary Care Centre – Saanich
  • Gorge Urgent and Primary Care Centre – Victoria

Now open over 5 years:

The Westshore Primary Urgent Care Centre opened in November 2018, following a high-profile media announcement with then Premier John Horgan along with Health Minister Adrian Dix, including a tour of the facility.

The clinic has been busy from day one. In recent years there were reports of long lineups outside the building, just to get an appointment.

Comment from Island Health:

Island Social Trends last week asked Island Health for more details about the WUPCC, which we will add to this article when available.

Comment from BC Greens:

“We need to address the primary care system. To make sure that everybody has access in every community has access – quickly – to primary and preventative care,” said BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau on March 14 in response to Island Social Trends asking about the overload at UPCC’s.

sonia furstenau, bc greens, media
BC Greens Leader Sonia Furstenau at a BC Legislature media scrum, March 14, 2024. [Island Social Trends]

“When I hear of doctors (teams of doctors) trying to put a community health centre together in a community and hitting resistance at every front from the Ministry of Health that tells me that they’re not focusing on the right solutions right now. It is that primary care piece — and ideally team-based care that includes the mental health and the range of health needs that people have in communities right now,” she said.

“For me it is both the investments in public health and primary care that are absolutely necessary if we’re going to help turn around the very dire impacts we’re seeing on acute care right now,” said Furstenau, while cautioning against turning to services from private for-profit companies “that are delivering health care for an additional cost”.

“We start to see a greater and growing inequality exacerbated by people who can pay to get access to timely primary care and people who are standing in line at 5:30 in the morning, trying to get into an Urgent Primary Care Centre. They find out day after day they are not going to get access to that primary care.”

“This should be a very serious concern for the Health Minister,” said Furstenau.

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Island Social Trends reports news with socioeconomic insights and analysis. Independent news service on south Vancouver Island, BC.

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Mary P Brooke, Editor & Publisher of Island Social Trends.

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke has been covering news of the west shore region since 2008 (starting in Sooke, then focussing more on Langford, Colwood, and Metchosin starting 2014), and BC politics and federal issues since 2018.

Her previous publications were MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). She launched Island Social Trends online at IslandSocialTrends.ca in summer 2020; the biweekly print edition has launched in 2024.

Ms Brooke holds a B.Sc. in health science. She covered the COVID pandemic daily during 2020-2022 and in 2023 started reporting with the BC Legislative Press Gallery.