Region’s second urgent primary care centre to open in James Bay

The capital region’s second urgent primary care centre will open in Victoria next year.

Island Health has leased space at 547 Michigan St. to operate the James Bay Urgent and Primary Care Centre. Renovations are underway, and it is expected to open in March. Its hours will extend into the evening, seven days a week.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix and Finance Minister Carole James made the announcement Monday. The capital region’s first urgent primary care centre opened a year ago in Langford; the Island has one other, in Nanaimo.

“The new urgent and primary care centre will help connect more people in Victoria with the health care they need, when they need it,” said Dix.

About one in six people in British Columbia don’t have a family doctor or nurse practitioner.

The centre will be located at the James Bay Community Project in the former home of the Whiteye Community Health Centre. The two doctors from that practice have relocated to the Yates-Quadra Medical Clinic downtown, taking their patient lists with them, said Dix.

All patients have been notified, and service disruptions are not expected, as Island Health has assumed the lease and operational responsibilities for this clinic, he said.

Urgent-care centres are meant to provide same-day access for people with non-emergency illnesses and injuries who need to be seen within 12 to 24 hours, relieving pressure on hospital emergency rooms.

They also try to “attach” patients to family doctors at the centre or in the community, and offer patients ongoing primary care through appointments with doctors.

“This facility will be slightly different than in Langford, for example, or in Nanaimo — to have two separate lines, one that addresses attachment and attaches people in the neighbourhood who need access to a family-practice doctor, and another that provides urgent care,” said Dix.

The first urgent primary care centre in B.C. opened in Kamloops in June 2018. There are now 14 in B.C. The centres are established in existing buildings and renovated to meet each community’s needs.

The James Bay Urgent and Primary Care Centre will be an integral part of the James Bay neighbourhood and capital region and will recruit general practitioners, nurse practitioners, nurses and clinicians dealing with mental health and substance use, Dix said.

“We are expecting this place, this clinic, will serve tens of thousands of patients every year.”

James, the MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill since 2005, said the centre is great news for the community.

James said residents come to her office daily because they can’t get a family doctor or the basic care they need — “who can’t get same-day or same-week access to see a family doctor, people who are chronically ill and frail who don’t have that continuum of care, and people who are desperately in need of support for mental health and addiction issues.

“Not only will this urgent and primary care centre bring much needed services to Victoria, but it will also help to reduce congestion at the emergency departments in our region,” she said.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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