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More options for primary care in Smithers

Northern Health
News Release

People living throughout the Bulkley Valley now have more options to access quality, team-based primary health care services closer to home as the recently opened Smithers Primary Care Clinic (PCC) at 3842 Third Avenue has expanded its operation.

On March 16, the clinic added an unattached patient clinic service providing bookable appointments for unattached patients on Tuesday and Thursday evenings with plans to expand in the future. Local physicians will rotate through the evening clinics, which will help reduce the number of people seeking care at the Bulkley Valley District Hospital emergency department for non-urgent health care needs.

To book an appointment with the unattached patient clinic, those without a current primary care provider are asked to please call in the morning of the clinic days at 250-877-7900.

“The expanding Smithers Primary Care Clinic is providing increased access to appropriate, culturally-safe primary care services for patients in Smithers and surrounding communities, when and where they need it most,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Residents who are unattached to a primary care provider can now be connected to a nurse practitioner or family physician for longitudinal care continuity in the community.”

The Bulkley Valley Witset PCN and the Smithers PCC continue to develop. Since opening in late January, the PCC has attached 320 unattached residents in the region with an NP primary care provider and has provided over 600 patient visits. The new clinic is part of the larger Bulkley Valley Witset Primary Care Network (PCN), and involves health care professionals, including nurse practitioners and family physicians, working together to ensure better access and care and a stronger health care system.

“We are listening to people in BC, and that is why we are creating clinics with nurse practitioners and family physicians to meet the daily health-care needs of a rapidly growing and aging population,” said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Smithers. “Thank you to the dedication and collaborative work of the Association of Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC, Northern Health, Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice, local Smithers and Houston medical staff, and our community partners for making this primary care clinic a reality and for continuing to extend its service so that more local residents of Smithers can benefit from it.”

Over the next three years, people living in Smithers who have been without a primary care provider will find that they have regular, reliable access to primary care providers and thousands of patients can expect to be attached by Primary Care Providers within the PCN. Once fully operational, the Primary Care Network is anticipated to include a chronic disease management registered nurse, physiotherapists/occupational therapists/kinesiologists, a psychologist, dietitians, Indigenous navigators and a pharmacist who will provide a wide range of primary care patient supports.

The PCC is a reality thanks to the collaborative partnership between Northern Health, the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice, and Witset Health Centre, as well as the First Nations Health Authority and Doctors of BC, who are members of the local Primary Care Network Steering Committee. Once the clinic is fully operational, the BC government through the Ministry of Health will provide annual operating funding of approximately $1.5 million.

To access services at the new Smithers Primary Care Clinic, residents of Smithers who currently do not have a primary care provider should register on the Pacific NorthWest Division FETCH BC website.

Backgrounder: Smithers Primary Care Clinic

Nurse practitioners are health practitioners who can work on their own, or with physicians and other health professionals, to provide care throughout a person’s life. This includes diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting tests, prescribing medications and performing medical procedures. Learn more about the new Smithers Primary Care Clinic:

  • Patient intake began in mid-January. Information on applying can be found online.
  • The PCC is located in Smithers but will provide access to primary care services for residents of the surrounding communities.
  • Of the total Smithers population (approximately 17,500), 2,800, or 16 percent are 65 years of age or older.
  • The top five chronic conditions in Smithers are: Hypertension, episodic mood and anxiety disorders, asthma, osteoarthritis and depression.
  • Approximately 4,004 patients in the region are considered unattached (22.9 percent).
  • The available services at SPCC include:
    • New client intake and screening visits
    • Regular/follow-up visits with clients concerning:
      • New symptom or diagnosis
      • Chronic disease management, including diabetes, asthma and heart disease
      • Pregnancy/prenatal/postpartum care
      • Contraception advice and treatment options
      • Mental health assessment/treatment/support
      • Substance use and addiction treatment/support
      • Medication prescription refills
      • Screening i.e. sexually transmitted infections, well child checks, cervical cancer/PAP smear
      • Treatments/procedures i.e. Intrauterine Device (IUD) insertion, cerumen (ear wax) removal
      • Referrals to medical specialist and social services and completing forms
      • Outreach to local community partners
      • Harm reduction strategies
    • Unattached patient clinic

SPCC is supported by the Pacific Northwest Division of Family Practice and Northern Health, First Nations Health Authority and the local First Nations community of Witset, as part of the primary care network in the region.