Urgent Primary Care Centre decreasing RIH wait times: Interior Health

By Ashley Legassic
November 9, 2018 - 9:38am Updated: November 9, 2018 - 10:10am

KAMLOOPS — A new health facility in Kamloops is having an impact on emergency room wait times at Royal Inland Hospital.

David Matear is the executive director for hospitals and communities in Interior Health West, and he says more than 1,000 patients have been seen since the Urgent Primary Care Centre opened in June, and numbers are expected to rise since the addition of the Family Practice Learning Centre in August.

"It has had an impact on individuals attending the emergency department. Because it's only been open for a short period of time were not sure of the full impact, we're expecting that it will have a more significant impact than it has currently," Matear says. "The numbers have been steadily increasing. So those patients who are attending the emergency department who don't necessarily need to be seen in the emergency department are given the option as to whether they want to be seen in the urgent care centre, and then they can make direct contact from there."

When someone presents at the emergency room with an illness, ailment or injury that isn't life threatening, they're offered a referral to the urgent care centre to be seen by a healthcare provider within 12 to 24 hours. 

"Obviously we don't want people to be in the hospital if they don't need to be," he says. "If they're attached and have their own primary care practitioner that's the ideal way to seek primary care and urgent care to go through your practitioner. If that's not the case then they can enter the Urgent Primary Care Centre by either phoning directly from the emergency department to gain an appointment there, or even be referred by a primary care practitioner or an Interior Health practitioner in the community."

By offering a new option for people seeking urgent care, Matear says it frees up room in the emergency room for people who need immediate care.

"If you give people the option that perhaps don't need to be treated in emergency and they go to the urgent care centre, then there are fewer people who would be attending the emergency department with frank emergency conditions," Matear says, "and then hopefully they'll be more efficiently cared for in terms of the time that it would take them to go through the process of being seen by physicians and other healthcare professionals."

There's a team-based health care approach in the Urgent Primary Care and Family Practice Learning Centre. Instead of patients getting referrals to specialists like physiotherapists, practitioners from different scopes are actually in the centre and patients can see a number of different specialists in one visit.

"That helps patients get faster care, reduce hospital admissions and improve patient outcomes," Matear says. "It reduces duplications of services and increases efficiency."

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