The Beaufort Family Health Society announced, on Sept. 5, the opening of the Cumberland Village Health Care (CVHC), a primary clinic aiming to provide medical services to 5,000 Comox Valley residents.
Facing numerous challenges in recent times, culminating with the closure of Cumberland’s last remaining clinic two years ago, the village hasn’t had a clinic until now.
Having witnessed the need for sustainable access to primary care services, Cumberland’s former mayor Leslie Baird introduced the concept of a community-led, non-profit clinic catering to the region’s residents.
After assembling a board of directors comprising concerned citizens, the society was formed.
With financial and technical support from numerous stakeholders, including the Village of Cumberland, Island Health, the BC Ministry of Health, and many others, the CVHC has finally become a reality.
Janet Bonaguro, president of the Beaufort Family Society, said this non-profit Cumberland-born model is a pioneering initiative for the Island.
According to CVHC’s website, the clinic’s team comprises five nurse practitioners (NPs) who have all completed a master’s degree in nursing.
NPs are regulated healthcare professionals who operate under their own licences, independent of family physicians. They are authorized to diagnose, prescribe medication, and refer patients to other health-care specialists, among other responsibilities.
“We can say, that for our clinic, NPs fulfil the same role as a family physician,” said Bonaguro.
In addressing the persistent health crisis in the region, Bonaguro and her board of directors have highlighted two primary factors contributing to the unmet healthcare needs of the citizens.
“One of the reasons is a shortage of primary care providers given our population,” said Bonaguro. “The other reason has to do with the extreme population growth (we have witnessed) in the Comox Valley over the last years.”
As the Valley’s population has grown by nine per cent, with Cumberland alone experiencing a 19 per cent increase, coupled with the closure of several walk-in clinics, more than 10,000 residents in the region still lack access to a family care provider.
Despite the significant hurdles it faces, the CVHC will help alleviate a substantial amount of pressure by providing a diverse range of services tailored to the region’s most pressing needs.
“Our primary care services - what we used to call a ‘doctor’s visit’ - is our number one service, accounting for more than 80 per cent of our (visits),” said Bonaguro. “(We also have our) in-house specialists for mental health, social work, and dietitian support. (We will potentially be adding) other services to our list as we continue to grow over time.”
Though Bonaguro added that the clinic is open for all Valley residents who do not currently have a primary care provider, namely a family physician or nurse practitioner, she emphasized that the CVHC is not a walk-in clinic.
People who don’t have a primary care provider and are a resident of the Comox Valley or CVRD, can call 811 or register online at healthlinkbc.ca/health-connect-registry/comox-valley.
To schedule an appointment at the CVHC, people need to call the clinic directly at 250-400-9220.
For more information about the society and clinic, visit cvhc.ca.