B.C.’s health minister says the first year of the urgent primary care centre “shows the need in Surrey for the service and that people in Surrey are responding to it.”
The North Surrey Urgent Primary Care Centre, located in the City Centre 2 building (9639 137A St.), officially opened on Nov. 8 , 2018 and became fully operational in January of 2019.
Since then, the site has had more than 19,000 patient visits.
The centre serves anyone who lives or works in Surrey, particularly north Surrey and Whalley, a release from the Ministry of Health states.
Asked if there are plans to open a second urgent primary care centre in another part of Surrey, Minister of Health Adrian Dix said, “The short answer to that question is ‘yes,’ but I won’t be announcing that today.”
He said the urgent primary care centres are “positive” because they can be put “into place quickly (and) are really valuable to the people of Surrey.”
At the time of opening Dix said the site will be able to see up to 1,300 patients per week.
A year later, Dix said the centre is “not quite” up to those numbers, but it’s getting close.
“In recent weeks, we’ve had weeks at 1,100 which is getting pretty close to there. I wold expect us to not just reach 1,300 but surpass in the next short while.”
An urgent primary care centre “provides services to patients in need and supports physician practices in the community by offering them a place to refer their patients when their own daily appointment schedule is fully booked.”
Referrals from Surrey Memorial Hospital, according to the ministry, allow patients being discharged to have “appropriate follow-up care and become attached to a provider who can manage their care and reduce hospital stays, particularly for frail elderly and patients with chronic conditions.”
Dix said there are about 78,000 people in Surrey who are unattached to a primary care provider.
“The north Surrey communities in Whalley, there’s a significant number of people who are in high-needs areas and, certainly, that group of people as well have benefitted from an urgent and primary care centre,” he said.
To date, the centre has connected 823 patients to a primary care provider with more patients still to be registered, according to the ministry.
Asked if the centre is providing any relief to SMH’s emergency room, Dix said “there is some.”
“Surrey Memorial Hospital has a very, very busy emergency room. The most significant challenge at Surrey Memorial Hospital isn’t just people who go there and need urgent care and are not going to stay in the hospital. The big challenge in Surrey Memorial Hospital is getting people from the emergency rooms to the wards, and that group of people wouldn’t be going to the urgent and primary care centre.”
The North Surrey Urgent Primary Care Centre was the first of the centres to be announced in B.C.
It is a team-based approach, which allows patients to be able to see health-care providers other than a family doctor “if their medical needs are more suited to a clinical pharmacist, social worker, mental health clinician or nurse.”
The centre has 45 staff employed including three family physicians (FP) and eight locum FPs; four nurse practitioners (NP) and four casual NPs; four registered nurses (RN) and four casual RNs; seven medical office assistants and three casual; two care co-ordinators, mental health and substance use clinicians and social workers each; one pharmacist; and one unit aid.
In the ministry’s most recent reporting period (Oct. 3 to 16, 2019) 45 per cent of visits to the centre have been considered “urgent walk-ins.”
Additionally, 286 patients (1.5 per cent of all visits) have been sent to the emergency room because they couldn’t be treated at the centre. Examples included heart attacks, head injury where a CT scan was required, eye injuries and fractures.