HEALTH: First urgent primary care centre in Vancouver to open

Adrian Dix
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

RESIDENTS in Vancouver’s downtown and West End now have improved access to team-based urgent primary care with the opening of the City Centre Urgent Primary Care Centre.

This is the fifth urgent primary care centre to open in the province under the government’s primary care strategy and the first in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

“This centre will help better connect local residents with the primary care they need,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This includes addressing the challenge many face in getting same same-day or next-day appointments. By being available for extended hours and on weekends, the urgent primary care centre will help people access the health-care services they need at the right time, and lessen demand on area emergency departments.”

The centre officially opens on Monday, November 26. Located between St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), it is for people with non-life-threatening conditions who need to see a health-care provider within 12-24 hours but don’t require the level of expertise found in emergency departments. Approximately one-third of visits to the emergency departments of St. Paul’s and VGH, respectively, could be dealt with in alternative settings, including an urgent primary care centre.

The Centre is located on the ground floor of 1290 Hornby Street and is co-located with the Seymour Health Centre, on the third and third floors of the building.

In consultation with the Vancouver Division of Family Practice, Vancouver Coastal Health is partnering with Seymour Health Centre to deliver urgent primary care services at this centre. Through this service model, unattached patients seen at the urgent primary care centre can be connected to primary care providers who will be co-located on-site, as well as providers within the community for ongoing care, starting in January 2019. The Seymour Health Centre has been delivering primary care in Greater Vancouver for more than 80 years.

“Each of our urgent primary care centres is designed to best meet the needs of the community and patient population it serves. For this centre, the health authority is leveraging a strong partnership with a service provider to provide team-based patient-centred care,” Dix said.

The team-based centre will provide care for approximately 35,000 unique patient visits for those in the downtown core and West End every year. Doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners and medical office assistants will work together to address their patients’ health-care needs in one setting. The team will work to ensure individuals with complex health needs who don’t have a doctor are connected with the most appropriate care.

Starting in January 2019, the urgent primary care centre will work with the Vancouver Division of Family Practice to begin attaching 10,000 patients a year to a primary care provider in the community.

Under the government’s primary care strategy, 10 urgent primary care centres will be open around the province by spring 2019.

Bob Chapman, Director, Vancouver Coastal Health, said: “In addition to the extended hours for accessing urgent primary care, city centre and West End residents will find basic lab, diagnostic imaging and a pharmacy on site, as well as access to mental-health and substance-use services.”

Dr. Eric Cadesky, President, Doctors of BC, said: “Family doctors have always played an important role as the first point of contact for patients in the health-care system. The urgent primary care centre will increase access and provide more services for patients who either don’t have or can’t see their own family doctor.”

Dr. Fiona Duncan, Physician Lead, Vancouver Division of Family Practice, said: “The Vancouver Division of Family Practice sees the urgent primary care centre as an important piece in the network of how primary care is delivered and accessed in Vancouver’s downtown core. We look forward to continuing our work with Vancouver Coastal Health and Ministry of Health to ensure we develop and maintain a model that supports both patients and local family doctors in our city.”


Quick Facts:

* The urgent primary care centre will improve access to care through extended weekend and evening hours. Beginning on November 26, it will be open seven days a week, 365 days per year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday to Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

* Approximately 20,000 residents in downtown Vancouver and the West End report not having a primary care provider.

* People can self-refer for their urgent primary care needs or get a referral from family physicians or other care providers. The most urgent patients will be treated first.

* The centre will offer basic lab and diagnostic imaging services. A pharmacy is also located in the building and access to mental-health and substance-use services will be available.

* The most prevalent conditions in the city centre of Vancouver are hypertension, mood / anxiety disorders, asthma, depression and osteoarthritis, all of which are most effectively managed with ongoing primary care.

* Annual staffing and operating costs are projected at approximately $3.7 million; one-time startup costs are estimated at $1.9 million.

* The new urgent primary care centre in Vancouver is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Health Care, the Vancouver Division of Family Practice, Doctors of BC and Seymour Health Care.

* Primary care is the day-to-day health care given by a health-care provider. Urgent primary care is the care that people need within 12-24 hours, for conditions, such as sprains, urinary problems, ear infections, minor cuts or burns.

* The strategy will see government fund and recruit 200 family doctors and 200 nurse practitioners and hire 50 clinical pharmacists to help provide all British Columbians with faster and improved access to health care.

* Throughout the province, 70% of communities will form primary care networks over the next three years. These networks will bring together and co-ordinate local health-care providers, services and programs, making it easier for people to access regular care providers, receive follow-up care and connect to other services that they may need.