Northern Health celebrated its Primary Care Clinic (PCC) and the expansion of its broader Primary Care Network (PCN) with a ribbon-cutting at the Third Avenue location in Smithers on July 20.
Since opening its doors in January, the clinic has attached 800 patients to a nurse practitioner (NP) primary care provider and there have been more than 2,000 visits by those patients, according to Eryn Collins, a spokesperson for Northern Health.
Furthermore, in March the PCC added a service for “unattached patients,” which has provided approximately 200 appointments to more than 100 patients who otherwise have no primary care provider.
“The unattached clinic is a physician-led service for currently unattached patients, but it’s not the same as the pathway for attachment to a nurse practitioner,” Collins noted in an email to The Interior News.
“We are listening to people in B.C., and that is why we are creating clinics with nurse practitioners and family physicians to meet the daily health-care needs of a rapidly growing and aging population,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine.
Cullen thanked the Association of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC, Northern Health, the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice, local Smithers and Houston medical staff and other community partners for collaboratively creating solutions for the primary care shortage.
The PCC is a part of the larger Bulkley Valley Witset Primary Care Network (PCN), which continues to grow and evolve.
“Over the next three years, people living in Smithers who have been without a primary care provider will find that they have regular, reliable access to primary care providers and thousands of patients can expect to be attached by Primary Care Providers within the PCN,” the press release stated.
Northern Health anticipates the Primary Care Network will eventually include a chronic disease management registered nurse, physiotherapists/occupational therapists/kinesiologists, a psychologist, dietitians, Indigenous navigators and a pharmacist who will provide a wide range of primary care patient supports.
Residents of Smithers who currently do not have a primary care provider should register on the Pacific NorthWest Division FETCH BC website.
To book an appointment with the unattached patient clinic, those without a current primary care provider are asked to please call in the morning of the clinic days at 250-877-7900.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story suggested the celebration was for the “unattached patient clinic” — a service added in March — rather than the Primary Care Clinic and Primary Care Network. It also quoted outdated numbers for the number of patients who had been connected to a primary care provider and the number of appointments provided and incorrectly attributed those numbers to the unattached clinic rather than the PCC as a whole. The Interior News apologizes for the errors.