West Kelowna health care consultant to reveal research findings

Joanne Konnert will give council her recommendations Tuesday night, but continuing the push for an urgent care centre isn't one of them.

West Kelowna council will consider several recommendations from its health care consultant when it meets Tuesday night, but continuing the push for an urgent care centre isn’t on the list.

The consultant, Joanne Konnert, was hired by the district in September 2012 to assess the health services located in West Kelowna.

Interior Health purchased property and developed a functional program for an urgent care centre in 2008; however, other priorities within Interior Health diverted attention from the project.

Since then, groups such as the West Kelowna Residents’ Association have urged local and provincial governments to re-visit the need for urgent care on the Westside.

Konnert’s research shows West Kelowna residents’ trips to the emergency room decreased by 20 per cent from 2008 to 2012.

“It was a surprise to me—it wasn’t what I was thinking I would see,” Konnert told guests of the West Kelowna Residents’ Association’s Annual General Meeting in March.

At the time, Konnert said West Kelowna emergency room usage would need to be at least four times higher to justify an urgent care centre in the municipality.

Konnert does, however, suggest West Kelowna needs more health services—specifically dealing with mental health and substance use, as well as chronic illnesses.

District staff has also recommended council work with Interior Health to improve communication and access to information regarding existing health programs within West Kelowna and examine future partnership opportunities with Interior Health to expand health services on the Westside.

Konnert’s research included interviews with stakeholders in Interior Health, as well as representatives from key organizations such as the Divisions of Family Practice for the Central Okanagan, the Westside Health Network and the West Kelowna Residents’ Association.

She also utilized results from a community-wide health care survey, administered by the WKRA last November, which gathered about 300 responses.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com