Urgent care centre not in the cards for West Kelowna

West Kelowna has officially parted ways with the vision of creating an urgent care centre on the Westside.

West Kelowna has officially parted ways with the vision of creating an urgent care centre on the Westside.

Joanne Konnert, a health care consultant hired by the district last September to assess the health services located in West Kelowna, presented council with her report Tuesday.

Her recommendations suggested the district needs more services—specifically those dealing with mental health and substance use, as well as chronic issues—and better communication with Interior Health. But her research also illustrated an urgent care centre in West Kelowna would likely be under-utilized at this time.

Part of that reasoning stems from the fact Westside residents’ trips to the emergency room decreased by 20 per cent from 2008 to 2012.

Konnert said the decrease was likely due to one new walk-in clinic opening and two others expanding their capacity during that time.

“If you took all the emergency visits to all three hospitals (Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon), including the really sick people, and said all these visits would go to an urgent care centre—you’d still only have about two or three visits per hour,” said Konnert.

“There’s not a good platform there that would support, at least from a statistical perspective, the building of an urgent care centre.”

Mayor Doug Findlater said Konnert’s report will help the district focus on areas where it can make gains in healthcare services.

“Maybe it’s not what we thought it would be, but it’s a first step of building that critical mass of services in this community,” said Findlater.

The district unanimously voted to advocate Interior Health for more services to be located within West Kelowna and work with Interior Health to improve the communication and access to information about existing health programs within West Kelowna.

West Kelowna will also examine future partnership opportunities with Interior Health regarding expanded health services on the Westside, designate a “point person” to facilitate collaboration efforts with Interior Health and look to establish a sub-committee related to health.