More people in Rutland and surrounding Kelowna neighbourhoods will soon have increased access to team-based, everyday health care with a new urgent and primary care centre (UPCC), opening in fall 2023 at 150 Hwy. 33 W.
“By investing in the development of a new urgent and primary health-care centre in Kelowna, we are demonstrating our commitment to connecting more patients with timely and comprehensive care,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “In the near future, the residents of Kelowna and surrounding communities will benefit from much-needed increased access to primary-care services.”
It is anticipated that the health-care team will include 31.3 full-time-equivalent jobs, including family doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and life-skills workers. Patients will be seen by the team of health-care providers and will be able to self-refer to the UPCC for care.
The centre will serve two purposes. The first is to provide urgent primary-care services to people living in the community who need to see a health-care provider within 12 to 24 hours, but do not require going to the emergency department, such as patients with sprains, cuts, high fevers and minor infections. Starting in fall 2023, care will be available from 9:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., seven days a week.
The second purpose is to help attach more patients to the clinic to provide ongoing team-based primary-care services, including mental health.
“This new facility will make it easier for more residents to access the health-care services they need in our community,” said Harwinder Sandhu, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care. “We are committed to keeping up the hard work of building out capacity, so our health-care system continues to become stronger.”
Interior Health will operate the UPCC and collaborate with the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice to integrate the UPCC into the Rutland/Lake Country Primary Care Network, as part of the larger Central Okanagan Primary Care Network.
With the opening of the Rutland UPCC, there will be 32 UPCCs operating in the province, with nine in the Interior Health region. The other UPCCs in the region are Vernon, Kamloops, Kelowna, Castlegar, West Kelowna, Cranbrook, Penticton and Ashcroft.
In addition to this new urgent primary-care centre, a community health centre (CHC) for Rutland is under development through a partnership between the Okanagan Family Medicine and Community Health Centre Society, Central Okanagan Primary Care Network and the Ministry of Health in order to provide improved access to team-based, longitudinal primary-care services.
Community health centres are community-governed, not-for-profit organizations with services tailored to meet the health needs of the community they serve. The community health centre would be governed and operated by Okanagan Family Medicine and Community Health Centre Society, with support from Interior Health and the Ministry of Health.
Like the Rutland UPCC, the proposed Rutland CHC would be part of the Central Okanagan Primary Care Network. More details about the community health centre will be provided in the weeks ahead.
This is a part of government’s ongoing work to make it easier for people to access health-care services. In August 2022, in partnership with Doctors of BC, the Province announced $118 million for family doctors to help patients get continued care. In October 2022, the Province announced a new physician master agreement and compensation model as a part of B.C.’s health human resource strategy.
Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health Authority –
“Interior Health is committed to its vision of health and well-being for all, and these new services mean more people will have access to an expert team of health-care professionals to support their immediate health concerns, but also their long-term health-care needs. And we know when primary-care services are available, it strengthens the entire health network, from primary to acute care services, which ultimately improves health outcomes for all.”
Loyal Wooldridge, chair, Central Okanagan Regional Hospital District –
“This new urgent and primary-care centre will provide much needed health-care services in the fast-growing urban centre of Rutland and is a welcomed step forward in building a healthier Kelowna. The regional hospital district fully supports every effort to elevate health services closer to where residents live. We are so pleased to see that the Province is continuing to invest in facilities to keep up with growth here, and we look forward to realizing positive results in the fastest-growing community in Canada.”
Dr. Christine Hoppe, physician lead, Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice –
“The past year has been particularly difficult, with multiple Rutland family doctors closing their practices. With a community health centre and an urgent and primary-care centre opening in Rutland in the months ahead, Rutland residents will have better access to much-needed health care in their own community.”
Alix Arndt, CEO, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC –
“Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC is 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.”
A backgrounder follows.