Kelowna nurses consults with senior patient. - Image Credit: Contributed

Nurses to help out MDs

Funding to help Central Okanagan family physicians to hire nursing support

Kelowna doctors aim to bring nurses onto staff roster with nurse-in-practice initiative

Several Kelowna region family doctors will add nurses to their staff teams to expand access and support for more patients.

The new initiative was unveiled in an announcement today by local MLAs Norm Letnick and Steve Thomson.

Six family doctors’ offices have expressed interest in bringing nurses into their practices – including licensed practical nurses and registered nurses – through new funding from the province.

Supported by the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice, the doctors are in the early stages of recruitment, with nurses expected to join their offices in the coming months.

This initiative is part of a primary and community care strategy in Kelowna earmarked to improve access to care for Central Okanagan residents.

In addition to nurses in primary care practices, it includes redesigning services to better support people with mental-health and substance-use concerns, a new Seniors Health and Wellness Centre, and targeted recruitment of family physicians.

“Nurses play a key role in our health-care team. I look forward to welcoming nurses into doctors’ offices throughout the community, and I know that Kelowna residents will benefit from this new partnership,”said Kelowna family physician Dr. Janet Evans.

“I’m excited to take part in this opportunity to add a nurse to the clinic. This represents a future model of primary care that will help me provide an innovative approach for my patients.”

It is expected that at least 3,000 residents in the community who are currently without a family physician will be attached to a primary care provider through this multi-pronged strategy.

The work in Kelowna is a collaborative effort among the Central Okanagan Division of Family Practice, the Ministry of Health, Interior Health and the Doctors of BC to help connect more patients with primary care.

The strategy builds on the division’s successful recruitment program, which has resulted in 11 family physicians moving to the area since 2015, and represents about 11,000 people newly attached to a family doctor.

A further seven physicians are committed to starting practice this year in the area, with more having expressed interest in relocating to the Central Okanagan.

A key part of getting connected to a primary care provider is having a process to match patients with providers accepting new patients as capacity becomes available.

To support this, the province will establish a dedicated contact number for Central Okanagan residents without a family doctor, which will be in place by June 2017.

The nurse-in-practice initiative is part of the ministry’s work with physicians and health authorities to enhance primary and community care across the province.

To bring nurses into their practice, doctors complete an assessment of their overall patient population to determine what services and skill sets are most needed in their practice, and which type of nurse would best complement their team.

It is anticipated that as nurses are recruited and join practices, practices will have more capacity to care for patients with complex health needs and take on new patients.

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