Castlegar residents will have more options for primary and urgent care as early as the end of March.
Interior Health has announced the opening of a new urgent and primary care centre to be located within the Castlegar and District Community Health Centre.
The care team will include general practitioners, registered nurses, social workers, physiotherapists and medical office assistants. They will support regular, ongoing health care for people who do not have a primary care provider and urgently needed primary care services for those who cannot see their doctor quickly enough to meet their current health need.
Current emergency department services will remain in place.
The hours for laboratory and X-ray services at the Castlegar Health Centre will also be extended to further support the new services.
“Castlegar has about 2,000 people who do not have a regular primary care provider. This needs to change,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development and MLA for Kootenay West at Monday’s announcement.
“We expect it will relieve congestion at the hospital for conditions that could be more appropriately treated in an urgent or primary care setting.”
The new centre will have two aspects — scheduled appointments and walk-in visits. Both will steer people who previously would have been seen in the emergency room to the new program.
Walk-in patients will still check in at the emergency room and be triaged by a nurse. The nurse will then decide if the patient needs to remain in the emergency department or would be better served by visiting the urgent care centre.
Appointments can be made for things previously handled in the emergency department such as intravenous antibiotic treatments or work-related doctor’s notes.
There will be two treatment rooms, a consultation room and administrative space.
The centre will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year.
This is the 16th urgent and primary care centre to be announced in the province and the fourth in the Interior Health region. So far, Castlegar is the smallest city to open one.
Construction has been going on in the space previously used as the surgical department for a number of weeks to get the new centre’s space ready, but the centre may open before all of the final touches are in place.