COLUMN: Urgent need for urgent-care centres south of the Fraser

First urgent-care facility to be near Surrey Memorial Hospital, but more are needed

Premier John Horgan announced Thursday that Surrey will be the location of the first in a series of urgent-care centres.

The centres were promised by the NDP during last year’s election campaign, and are an important step in the right direction. They are part of a broader focus on primary care, which calls for a more team-based approach.

The idea behind the centres is to provide quicker access to health care, take pressure off hospital emergency wards and connect more people with professionals who can keep track of their health history.

This first urgent-care centre, expected in the fall, will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. When fully staffed, it will be able to handle 1,300 patients per week. It will be integrated into a network of health-care services, making followup easier. It will be geared towards people who do not have a family doctor.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the urgent-care centres will allow more people to get family doctors. Another government initiative calls for the hiring of 200 family doctors, 200 nurse practitioners and 50 clinical pharmacists. One of six B.C. residents does not have a family doctor. In Surrey alone, the number is about 78,000 people.

The government plans to open 10 urgent-care centres in the next year. While it will undoubtedly open them in various parts of the province, a strong case can be made for opening at least two more in the South Fraser region. If that does not happen in the first wave, hopefully it can be considered after the first 10.

The first Surrey urgent-care centre in the South Fraser region will be located at 9639 137A St., just steps from Surrey Memorial Hospital. SMH has the busiest emergency room in the province, and despite a number of expansion projects in the past decade, lengthy wait times remain.

There are many pressing needs in North Surrey. Not the least is dealing with people who have drug and alcohol addictions, and with many homeless people in the area. The emphasis on a team-based approach works well with many of the existing services in the area.

While this location makes sense given the plethora of medical services nearby, there needs to be at least two others in the region.

One should be in Newton or North Delta. The Newton area is the most-populated region of Surrey, and North Delta residents mainly use Surrey Memorial Hospital’s ER. An urgent-care centre that is more centrally located there would take pressure off SMH.

Another urgent-care centre needs to be located in the fast-growing Cloverdale area. SMH is a fair distance from Cloverdale, and this prompts many residents of that community to go to Langley Memorial Hospital or Peace Arch Hospital for treatment. While there is a plan to expand LMH’s crowded emergency room, the expansion project will not be complete for several years.

All of these factors again show how badly underserved the entire South Fraser region is when it comes to health services.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News.

frank.bucholtz@gmail.com

Just Posted

B.C. scientist bringing seabird conservation to the forefront at international congress

Bird Studies Canada’s David Bradley is co-convening a symposium on biosecurity for island species

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Eagle tree cut down in South Surrey for ‘The Eagles’ development

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

Ex-BCTF president ‘undeterred’ after early release from pipeline protest jail term

Susan Lambert and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson released early

Fast food chains look to capitalize on vegetarian, vegan trend with new items

Seven per cent of Canadians consider themselves vegetarians and 2.3 per cent identify as vegans

B.C. swimmer halts journey across Strait of Juan de Fuca after hypothermia sets in

Victoria MS athlete Susan Simmons swam for eight-and-a-half hours in 9 C choppy waters

‘Hard on water:’ Smoke not the only long-range effect of wildfires

The project began more than 10 years ago after southern Alberta’s 2003 Lost Creek fire

B.C. VIEWS: Genuine aboriginal rights can be misused and discredited

Camp Cloud one of long line of protests falsely asserting title

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to march in Montreal’s Pride parade

Trudeau will end the day in his home riding of Papineau

Vancouver Whitecaps give up late goal in 2-2 draw with New York Red Bulls

Four of Vancouver’s next five games are at home

B.C. man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

Most Read

l -->