(Island Health)

A new Community Health Centre (CHC) is set to open this week in Saanich, providing more access to everyday primary healthcare services, according to the provincial government.

Starting Wednesday, March 16th, the Luther Court CHC on Cedar Hill Cross Road will begin offering appointments—before the completion of its expansion and renovation.

The province says work is now underway to create a 2,800 sq. ft “purpose-built clinical space” at Luther Court, which is expected to open this June and reach full capacity by 2024 or 2025.

Nine full-time clinical healthcare providers will be hired as a result, the province says, including family physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and other professionals.

In the meantime, officials say a physician and three nurses, with help from support staff, will start attaching patients and seeing them virtually as in-person care is provided at a temporary off-site space.

“We know in Victoria it is often challenging for people to get the health care they need at the time they need it most,” said Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake.

Throughout Greater Victoria, multiple walk-in clinics have announced permanent closures this year, including the James Bay Medical Treatment Centre, Colwood Medical Treatment Centre and View Royal’s Eagle Creek Medical Clinic.

The latter estimates around 100,000 locals are without a family doctor due to “the severe shortage of community-based, longitudinal doctors in the Capital Regional District.”

SEE ALSO: Physician shortage prompts Colwood walk-in clinic closure

In its closure announcement, Eagle Creek blamed the shortage on doctor expenses and a fee-for-service payment system it calls “inadequate”.

But Fleming says the province hopes to address this challenge, adding, “the new community health centre is a crucial part of the government’s commitment to deliver better and faster access to health care everywhere in the province.”

The Luther Court CHC will be open Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The province provided one-time funding of more than $2.1 million for the centre’s renovation costs, with the BC government pledging more than $2.2 million in operating budget once it reaches full capacity.

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