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Province announces urgent primary care centre will open in Kelowna this winter

By Doyle Potenteau - Online Journalist Global News

An urgent primary care centre will open in Kelowna, likely in winter, the provincial government announced on Thursday.

The care centre will be located at 1141 Harvey Avenue, in front of the Coast Capri hotel near Gordon Avenue, and will be open seven days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., including statutory holidays.

The government said the care centre will focus on urgent primary care that’s needed within 12 to 24 hours — such as sprains, urinary problems, ear infections, minor cuts or burns — and for when the situation is not a true emergency.

According to the government, approximately 14 per cent of visits to the emergency department at Kelowna General Hospital could be dealt with in alternative settings, such as an urgent primary care centre.

“The new urgent and primary care centre will help connect more people in Kelowna and the surrounding communities with the health care they need, when they need it,” Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, said in a press release.

“By increasing the number of publicly funded health-care professionals in the community, thousands of area residents who currently lack a primary care provider will benefit from increased access to same day appointments for urgent needs, ongoing primary care and better longitudinal care into the future.”

The care centre is expected to open in late December and will feature around 22 full-time employees, including five general practitioners and two nurse practitioners.

In addition to providing urgent and primary care services, the care centre will also attempt to connect patients without a family doctor to a regular physician or nurse practitioner.

The government predicts the care centre will see approximately 63,000 patient visits per year, adding the care centre’s annual costs are projected at around $4.2 million.

The new urgent and primary care centre will make a big difference in the lives of Kelowna-area residents looking for local access to health care services,” said Dr. Doug Cochrane, board chair for Interior Health.

“By having a team of health care professionals all at the same location providing same-day care, including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and physiotherapists, people will have better support for their immediate and long-term health-care needs.”

The province said this will be the 11th urgent and primary care centre in B.C., and the second in the Interior Health Region.

The first Interior Health urgent and primary care centre is located in Kamloops and has served 9,300 patient visits since opening on June 12, 2018.