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Province of British Columbia
NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
2021HLTH0133-001415
July 21, 2021
Ministry of Health
Island Health
Big step in primary care transformation for Greater Victoria

VICTORIA – People living in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay will benefit from the Province’s transformation of everyday health care for people, with the establishment of four primary care networks (PCN) and the province’s largest urgent and primary care centre (UPCC).

“These four primary care networks are bringing the needs of patients and their health-care workers to the forefront and transforming how we deliver primary care into the future,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Victoria’s new patient-focused services reflect the needs of the local community and will add capacity across four new PCNs and a new UPCC, linking services to ensure people get the support they need when they need it and where they need it.” 

Urgent and primary care centres bring together health-care workers – including family physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and others – to provide primary care to patients who currently do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, and weekend and after-hours care, taking pressure off hospital emergency departments.

A primary care network links together family practitioner offices in a local community with a range other health-care professionals – including nurse practitioners, nurses, mental health therapists among others – to provide patients access to a comprehensive range of primary-care services from a team of health-care professionals working together to better meet the needs of individual patients and the community.

Over the next four years, across the four new primary care networks, up to 96.5 more full-time health-care providers will be recruited. This includes family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, clinical pharmacists, Indigenous health providers and allied health professionals, such as social workers and mental health clinicians. There are 43 primary care clinics participating in the PCN with 126 family physicians.

The four primary care networks will work together to provide patient-centred care for people across Greater Victoria, including James Bay, Fairfield, Oaklands, Fernwood, downtown Victoria, Vic West, Oak Bay, Gordon Head, Shelbourne, Interurban, Tillicum, Quadra and Swan Lake. Over the past two years, engagement has involved the Victoria Division of Family Practice, Indigenous community partners, patient partners, Island Health and key community organizations that deliver primary care to inform PCN service design.

The Victoria networks were developed to better meet the specific needs of the community. The networks will strengthen services identified as high priority. These include:

  • better access to health care for those with mild to moderate mental health conditions;
  • better co-ordinated services for families and seniors who are frail and people with complex health issues;
  • more access to comprehensive services for people living in poverty; and
  • culturally safe care for Indigenous peoples.

“When we need to see a health-care provider, we want to know that we can see someone who can help soon,” said Lana Popham, MLA for Saanich South. “The new primary care networks and urgent and primary care centre will do just that.”

Murray Rankin, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, said: “People living in Greater Victoria often struggle to get access the health-care services they need when they need it and closer to home. “I am looking forward to the additional access to primary care services that I know will benefit thousands of people in the region.”

The new UPCC means more people and families in Greater Victoria will be able to better access same-day, urgent, non-emergency health care for medical issues varying from minor injuries to mental health, as well as everyday primary care.

The UPCC opened on July 19, 2021, in downtown Victoria at 1107 Pandora Ave. The centre is the largest in the province at 840 square metres (9,045 square feet). For patients who are already attached to the existing local family practices that move into the UPCC, they will continue receiving the ongoing, consistent health care they need at the centre.

Patients will be seen by the team of health-care providers and will be able to self-refer to the UPCC for care. Once the centre is open, it is anticipated that the health-care team will include a range of health-care professionals, including family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, a mental health and substance use consultant and social workers.

“We know that people in our region deserve the best possible access to primary care providers,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake. “These investments in primary care in Victoria show that government is listening to the needs of residents and is committed to make it easier and faster for them to get the health-care services they need, closer to home.”

Currently, hours of operation at the downtown Victoria UPCC are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. When fully staffed, those hours will be expanded to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and care will be available seven days a week, including statutory holidays.

“I am proud of our government’s primary care strategy and our continuous action to help people live healthier, better lives by improving access to health care,” said Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. “I look forward to seeing how the new UPCC will bring meaningful change to the lives of people in the region.”

The downtown Victoria UPCC is a collaboration between Island Health and the Victoria Division of Family Practice. This is the 25th UPCC announced under the government's primary care strategy.

As of May 27, 2021, 53 PCNs have been established in the province with a total of 429.27 net new full-time equivalent staff (FTEs) hired, including:

  • 31.01 family physicians;
  • 91.3 nurse practitioners;
  • 104.5 registered nurses;
  • 123.02 allied health professionals;
  • 6.75 Indigenous Wellness Providers; and
  • 72.69 administrative support personnel.

Learn More:

To learn more about the Province's primary health-care strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001010

To learn more about the Province's strategy to increase the number of nurse practitioners, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0034-000995

To learn more about the Province's strategy to recruit and retain more family medicine graduates, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018HLTH0052-001043

Three backgrounders follow.

 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Health
Communications
250 952-1887 (media line)
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER 1
For Immediate Release
2021HLTH0133-001415
July 21, 2021
Ministry of Health
Island Health
Facts about Victoria primary care networks (PCNs)

Communities throughout the province are coming together to plan and create primary care networks (PCNs). PCNs are local community-based networks of family practitioners that plan and deliver all the primary care needs of a community - in some ways, this is similar to how school districts work together to plan and deliver education services for communities. 

PCNs can include family doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, social workers, midwives, mental health professionals, First Nations and community providers and others, depending on the needs of the people who live there. These teams will include existing family doctor offices, nurse practitioners, services offered at health authority facilities, community health service organizations and more in a community.

Each PCN will offer programs and services to help patients manage their health. Family doctors and nurse practitioners, working with a team of health professionals, will work together to address health and wellness concerns and help you and your family achieve your health goals.

Each PCN designs programs and services to best meet local needs, which vary by community and region, while also integrating into the broader health system to provide wraparound care.

According to BC Stats data, the communities that the Victoria primary care networks will serve have a combined population of 208,000. 

The PCNs were developed to better meet the specific needs of the communities by strengthening already established services identified as high priority and adding new resources. These include:

  • improving health care services for people experiencing homelessness, mental health and substance use conditions and other challenges through access to primary care services, including addictions medicine, at various BC Housing sheltering sites.
  • adding a high-complexity care team, dedicated to providing ongoing, long-term team-based primary care to people with complex needs.
  • supporting culturally safe care for Indigenous peoples, including an Indigenous health team to support patient advocacy, access to care and traditional healing. The PCNs will expand the Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC) by recruiting more family physicians, nurse practitioners and registered nurses. The new health-care providers will offer services out of VNFC, as well as at five First Nation communities, including: Songhees First Nation, Esquimalt First Nation, T’Sou-ke First Nation, Scia’new First Nation and Pacheedaht First Nation.
  • In addition, and through the primary care networks, people who are economically vulnerable, have complex medical needs and face challenges to accessing care will benefit from two mobile medical vans that will provide care throughout the communities in Victoria. Care will be given by a team of trauma-informed health-care providers, including family physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals.

Distribution of 96.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) new health-care providers across four PCNs:

  • 10.0 FTE family physicians
  • 15.5 FTE nurse practitioners
  • 31.0 FTE registered nurses
  • 0.5 FTE licensed practical nurse
  • 9.3 FTE social workers
  • 8.0 FTE mental health and substance use clinicians/social worker
  • 2.6 FTE occupational therapists
  • 2.5 FTE physiotherapists
  • 2.2 FTE registered dietitians
  • 2.0 FTE outreach workers
  • 1.0 FTE respiratory therapist 
  • 8.0 FTE Indigenous health roles
  • 4.0 FTE clinical pharmacists

The Indigenous health team will include eight full-time equivalent (FTE) Indigenous health providers. As part of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre expansion, family physicians, nurse practitioners and two FTE registered nurses will be recruited.

Through the Victoria PCN, two mobile medical vans will be available. The first van will be available through the Seniors Mobile Primary Care Outreach Strategy, which provides in-home visits for patients who have difficult accessing primary care services. The team is composed of 1.5 FTE registered nurses, 0.5 FTE occupational therapist, 0.5 FTE physiotherapist and 1.0 FTE social worker, and will assist patients who require longer appointments and alternative arrangements to receive necessary and holistic care. It will serve mainly the Gordon Head and Oak Bay areas, but will travel on an at-need basis.

The second van will be used in the Low-Barrier Primary Care Clinic and Encampment Parks Outreach Strategy and is owned by Cool Aid. It will be significantly retrofitted as a mobile medical clinic that serves people in the downtown Victoria region who are not attached to any primary care supports or who migrate between acute and community care with no home-base. This team is composed of 2.0 FTE family physicians, 2.0 FTE registered nurses and 2.0 FTE outreach workers.

The PCNs will build on other investments in the region:

  • The publicly funded PET/CT scanner suite at the BC Cancer centre in Victoria, which opened in 2019.
  • Esquimalt Urgent and Primary Care Centre – Victoria
    • Currently offers limited health services provided by a registered nurse, certified practice nurse or a mental health and substance use consultant. Work underway to expand services.
  • James Bay Urgent and Primary Care Centre – Victoria
  • Nanaimo Urgent and Primary Care Centre
  • North Quadra Urgent and Primary Care Centre – Victoria
  • Westshore Urgent and Primary Care Centre – Langford
  • Expanded team-based care at the West Coast Family Medical Clinic in Sooke
  • A 3T MRI at Royal Jubilee Hospital
  • Island Sexual Health Community Health Centre
 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Health
Communications
250 952-1887 (media line)
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER 2
For Immediate Release
2021HLTH0133-001415
July 21, 2021
Ministry of Health
Island Health
Urgent and primary care centre in Victoria
  • People can self-refer to urgent and primary care centres (UPCCs) for their urgent and primary care needs.
  • Patients can be referred by community service providers, other health-care professionals and clinics.
  • People can schedule appointments. However, during busy periods, appointments will be prioritized based on urgency.
  • Patients requiring laboratory testing beyond the simple specimen collection will be provided with requisitions for lab tests to be completed at nearby laboratories.
  • The top identified health conditions in the Greater Victoria region are hypertension, episodic mood and anxiety disorders, asthma, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
  • UPCCs are part of a comprehensive provincial 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 follow up care and connect to other services they may need.
  • Five UPCCs are open in the Island Health region, including in Nanaimo and Westshore, James Bay and North Quadra in Greater Victoria. The Esquimalt UPCC opened in a temporary location in June 2021. Government also provided funding to expand team-based primary care at the West Coast Family Medical Clinic in Sooke.

Victoria downtown UPCC

  • Once fully staffed, longitudinal care will be available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed Sundays and holidays).
  • Urgent care, once the UPCC is fully staffed, will be available 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 365 days/year (including holidays).
  • Of the 66,600 people in the downtown region, approximately 12,600, or nearly 19%, of residents are considered unattached to family physicians.
  • In 2019-20, almost 30% of the emergency department visits to local emergency departments were triaged at a lower acuity level according to the Canadian Triage Acuity Scale, meaning many of these patients could have been treated in the community.
  • Total capital costs for the UPCC are estimated to be approximately $5 million, of which $1.4 million is contributed by Capital Regional Hospital District and $500,000 by Landlord Tenant Improvement Allowance.
  • The UPCC will include exam rooms, a procedure room, COVID-19 exam rooms, consult rooms, medication rooms, collaborative workspaces and medical office assistant work areas, among others.
 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Health
Communications
250 952-1887 (media line)
 

 
Province of British Columbia
BACKGROUNDER 3
For Immediate Release
2021HLTH0133-001415
July 21, 2021
Ministry of Health
Island Health
What people are saying about the new PCNs and UPCCs

Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions –

“Embedding mental health and addictions care into urgent and primary care centres and primary care networks across B.C. is vital to removing stigma and barriers to care. I’m encouraged that, along with so many other B.C. communities, people in Greater Victoria will now be able to connect to the mental health and addictions supports they need and deserve.”

Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health –

“Our teams have been working hard to contribute toward the advancement of Island Health primary care networks. The Victoria PCN, along with four other recently announced primary care networks across Vancouver Island, will help health-care providers place people at the very centre of our care and serve to foster healthier communities. Further, the new urgent and primary care centre will improve access to health and care services for those living in the downtown Victoria areas for years to come.”

Jeneen Hunt, Esquimalt Nation, interim health director, Esquimalt Nation and co-chair, Victoria PCN Steering Committee –

“In partnership with the Ministry of Health, Victoria Division of Family Practice, Island Health, First Nation Health Authority, Indigenous organizations (health directors), Métis Nation and Patient Voices Network, we have been working together to guide the health-care transformation that provides professional, culturally safe and respectful health-care services for all. It is exciting to have the primary care network plan approved by the Ministry of Health, and know we are working towards a goal of fair and equitable care for all individuals.”

Dr. Katharine McKeen, co-chair, Victoria Division of Family Practice and co-chair, Victoria PCN Steering Committee, and Dr. Tim Troughton, co-chair, Victoria Division of Family Practice –

“We have enjoyed working closely with our partners to ensure that primary care networks and the Downtown Victoria UPCC improve patient services in line with priority needs. Our vision is to build more capacity for strong patient-provider relationships and attachment. Family physicians on a team with nurses, social workers and others will be able to offer additional, patient-centred support, especially for vulnerable patients and those with complex health conditions. The network’s Downtown Victoria UPCC creates opportunities for local family physicians to relocate to a new team-based environment, with their patients. Our hope is to see more sustainable models like this to encourage new doctors to work in community practice.”

Dr. Matthew Chow, president, Doctors of BC –

"The best health-care systems in the world have strong primary care and we hope that the primary care network initiative provides additional needed resources to doctors serving their community, especially those who strengthen longitudinal care. A primary care network will collectively increase a community's capacity to provide greater access to primary care for those who need it, especially for vulnerable patients and those with complex health conditions."

Michael Sandler, executive director, Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC  –

“The Association of the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC is pleased that the knowledge, skills and expertise of the entire health-care team will improve access to health care for British Columbians through the new primary care network and urgent and primary care clinic. We believe that this approach will be pivotal in ensuring B.C. families feel connected to their health-care team and we are excited to see the launch of four new primary care networks and new urgent and primary care clinic in B.C.”

Denise Blackwell, chair, Capital Regional Hospital District Board –

“The Capital Regional Hospital District is pleased to provide capital funding for the urgent and primary care centre on Pandora. This new center will mean our residents will have increased access to the care they need and will be able to get it in a timelier fashion.”

 
Contact:
 
Ministry of Health
Communications
250 952-1887 (media line)
 

 
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: news.gov.bc.ca/connect