Residents of Nanaimo will soon have expanded access to the city’s urgent and primary-care centre, according to the BC Ministry of Health.

Beginning June 2019, the Medical Arts Urgent and Primary Care Centre will bring 14 new full-time healthcare providers to the region, where over 15,500 people currently do not have a primary-care provider, and who often do not receive same-day care.

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“This urgent and primary-care centre is a real solution that will increase and improve access to care including on evenings and weekends, using a team-based care solution and supporting attachment of patients who need a primary-care provider,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

New “team-based” approach

The province is working with Island Health and the Medical Arts Centre to expand the clinic and introduce a new “wraparound team-based care” system.

The team-based approach is expected to provide more same-day appointments and extend the centre’s hours of operation. The new system will also focus on rapid access and coordinated services for seniors and people in need of mild to moderate mental-health and substance-use treatment.

“Team-based care that addresses the needs of the community will soon become the pillar of our new primary-care system, and it will be how everyone in Nanaimo and across the province access the everyday health care they need,” said Dix.

The 14 new full-time staff being added to the care centre will include four doctors, registered nurses, mental-health and substance-use clinicians, social workers, a pharmacist, and one medical office staff.

The clinic will be open seven days a week, and annual operating cost for the centre is expected to increase by roughly $2.7 million.

“The Medical Arts Urgent and Primary Care Centre is an exciting step forward for the community of Nanaimo,” said Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo in a release.

“I am especially looking forward to the added services and the team-based care approach that I know will make a big difference in the lives of residents, including my family.”

This is the second health centre on Vancouver Island to be upgraded or created by the province. The first was Langford’s Westshore Urgent and Primary Care Centre, which opened in November 2018.

Meanwhile, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins received a letter from the South Island Division of Family Practice last week describing the urgent need for new primary-care services in the township.

Written by Directory Clay Barber, the letter outlines the recent closure of one Esquimalt medical clinic and the relocation of one physician which has left more than 4,000 patients in search of a new family doctor and bringing the total to 36,000 people in need of a physician.