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What Kamloops's new family practice learning centre means to the city's doctor shortage

September 07, 2018 - 3:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - More patients without a family doctor in Kamloops will soon be connected with the city's newest extension of primary care services.

The provincial government announced earlier this week that the Urgent Primary Care Centre on Columbia Street near Royal Inland Hospital would be expanding its services by introducing the Family Practice Learning Centre, which opened its doors last week. Jason Giesbrecht, executive director of primary and community care transformation with Interior Health, tells iNFOnews.ca that the team-based approach in the clinic will help address patient needs more effectively.

"We think about the Urgent Primary Care and Learning Centre as one centre that has two parts," he says. "There are clinical staff that are hired to work with patients in the entire centre, nursing staff, we will be hiring physiotherapy and social work (staff). There will be a complement of clinicians that will implement team-based primary care in the entire centre.”

There are fully-licenced family physicians working in the space, and they are training medical school residents, and Giesbrecht says so long as students are there, licenced physicians will be overseeing their training.

Giesbrecht says generally speaking, by having medical students working in a community before they graduate, it increases the chances of them choosing to stay in that community after their program completion.

Although the learning centre is in the same facility as the urgent primary care centre, they operate very differently. The urgent care centre sees patients who were referred by either the emergency department at the hospital, or by their family physician. 

The new learning centre will be taking patients off of the HealthLink B.C. 811 wait list, which was implemented as a universal list for Kamloops residents to be connected with either a family doctor or nurse practitioner. Patients who are already on the wait list will be connected with the centre, which will operate as an appointment-only facility.

Giesbrecht says with the new centre, more appointment time will be allocated for patients for broader conversation and learning opportunities for residents. He adds this will also help patients who need referrals to specialists, since many different healthcare workers will be practicing out of the centre.

"I think there are a couple of advantagess to a team-based approach," Giesbrecht says. "By adding different clinicians, it increases the ability to see more patients."

When a patient is getting primary care services without a team-based approach, Giesbrecht says patients can be referred to other clinicians, may have to be put on a wait list, travel, book more appointments, and there's not always an ability for all of the different healthcare workers involved with the patient to collaborate and share information on the best path for that person.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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