The Okanagan Nation Alliance is celebrating the announcement of a new set of Primary Care Networks (PCN) in several of their communities, something they say is crucial to the ongoing health of their members.
This comes after B.C. Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, announced Sept. 15 that numerous primary care networks would be implemented in parts of B.C. over the next three years.
Residents of the Central Okanagan, Dix said, will benefit from the addition of approximately 79 new full-time equivalent health providers, which will attach approx. 28,580 patients to a consistent primary care provider.
In addition to the Central Okanagan, the Okanagan Nation announced Sept. 25 that PCNs are also being planned for the South Okanagan’s Lower and Upper Similkameen Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band, for the North Okanagan’s Okanagan Indian Band, Nicola Valley with Upper Nicola Band, and Revelstoke.
In the South Okanagan, including the Osoyoos Indian Band, boots are on the ground working to establish these networks. In the north, including in Vernon, Nicola Valley and Revelstoke, discussions with physicians to deliver services to the community are just beginning.
Delivering services to members, the Okanagan Nation Alliance explained, is very beneficial, especially to those who cannot leave home by themselves.
The Okanagan Nation Alliance explained that many of their member communities do not have regular access to culturally appropriate primary care services, adding that the relationship between Indigenous people and health care services has been ‘tenuous’.
Trauma, colonization and poverty, they explain, have played key roles in limiting access.
Health teams in Syilx communities, the nation explained, have been stretched thin, managing with ‘very little’ resources, but that these new partnerships will allow them to provide fuller primary care in their communities, and in a culturally safe way.
However, they said with Dix’s recent announcement on addressing racism in health care settings, collaborative and culturally appropriate planning and services ‘remains a priority’.
“Access to health care is crucial to the ongoing well-being and social determinants of health for Syilx members; early and good access to primary care can minimize ongoing health and mental health concerns,” said Allan Louis, Syilx Health Governance Representative.
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