The B.C. government is establishing a primary care network in the Comox Valley that will bring additional resources and strengthened supports to the region.
Over the next three years, up to 13 new full-time equivalent health-care providers will be recruited. These will include a nurse practitioner, registered nurses, allied health-care professionals and a clinical pharmacist.
“Team-based care that responds to the needs of each community, as identified by those working in them, is going to be the backbone of the new primary care system in B.C. and will be how patients’ everyday health-care needs are met today, tomorrow and beyond,” Minister of Health Adrian Dix said in a news release. “These networks will work together to address long-standing gaps in everyday health care for people living in the Comox Valley.”
For the public, the provincial government hopes the new network will mean faster, better access to a primary care team or provider, even on evenings and weekends, or being able to connect to appropriate services and supports in the community. The government will provide approximately $2.2 million in annual funding to the primary care network once it is fully established. The plan is for the Comox Valley network to bring together community partners to work together to improve health-care access and to enhance the delivery of care for people in the area.
“With focused attention on making sure Comox Valley’s seniors, First Nations people and residents with mental health and substance use issues have access to co-ordinated, quality primary and community care, the Comox Valley primary care network will benefit some of the region’s most vulnerable people,” MLA for Courtenay-Comox Ronna-Rae Leonard said.
At present, there are eight family practice clinics in the community with more than 50 physicians participating in the implementation of team-based care within the primary care network, and 133 active physicians are part of the local family practice division.
The network will partner new and existing health-care professionals with these clinics, Island Health, new Indigenous health resources, First Nations Health Authority resources and community organizations as part of a networked, team-based approach to providing integrated, whole-person care.
“The creation of teams and increased attachment rates have been developed with the health-care professionals and service agencies at a community level. As a result, this is a plan that is reflective and responsive to the care needs of the people they serve, and it will build and refine over time as recruitment and services ramp up,” Dix said.
The goal is to offer a full range of accessible, everyday health services to better support patients and providers. The network will also focus on improving access to strengthened services for the following populations: people with mental health and substance use issues; Indigenous peoples; and frail seniors and people with complex health issues. For example, a new Indigenous wellness liaison position and an Indigenous wellness advocate position have been created to engage local Indigenous people with primary care.
The Comox Valley primary care network is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Island Health, the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice, the First Nations Health Authority, K’òmoks First Nation, Patient Voices Network and Métis Nation British Columbia. It is one of several recently announced around the province.