Wait-time complaints mounting at Oceanside Health Centre

Less than four months after its official opening, the Oceanside Health Centre has a new person at the top of its organizational chart.

And judging by the calls and anecdotes shared by readers relating their experiences at the health centre, Sujata Connors has a lot of work ahead of her.

Connors recently became the director of the OHC, taking over for Sheila Cruikshank, who has retired, according to Island Health. Cruikshank, a Parksville resident, held a number of positions in Island Health before becoming the OHC's director, including time as the vice-president of St. Joseph's Hospital in Comox.

Connors, who has a background in nursing, comes to the OHC from Island Health's Seniors and Spiritual Health program. She arrives at her desk at what seems to be a trying time for the new facility, which Island Health says is seeing 62-72 patients a day in the urgent care clinic, which opened Sept. 16.

“While we have had many compliments about this new service, we have also had some complaints, the majority around long waiting times to be seen,” Island Health’s regional manager of communications, Valerie Wilson, wrote in an e-mail to The NEWS on Tuesday. “We do apologize to our patients, and we are sorry to hear that some patients have not had a good experience at the OHC urgent care. We encourage them to bring their concerns forward to OHC leadership or our patient care quality office.”

Wilson also said the public may not be clear as to exactly what the urgent care clinic is for, what ailments it is designed to treat.

“Urgent care is not a walk-in clinic for minor, non-urgent medical ailments,” Wilson wrote. “Patients are assessed by a nurse when they arrive for urgent care, and the most urgent medical conditions will be seen and treated first. Urgent care is also not designed for emergency conditions that need treatment in hospital (e.g. trauma, heart attack or strokes).”

Wilson was asked about staffing levels at the OHC, specifically related to the urgent care clinic.

“We currently have a day shift and evening shift physician,” Wilson wrote. “We now are also bringing in a second physician to cover the busiest parts of the day as they are determined by our waiting time tracking, so that there will be two physicians working during these high patient volume times.”

Wilson said the OHC has a wait-time tracking system in place and are continually monitoring wait times.

“While we see patients as quickly and efficiently as possible, there are times when waits are longer and this can be attributed to several factors, including more urgent cases that need to be seen ahead of less urgent cases,” Wilson wrote. “We want to thank the residents of Oceanside as well as other users the Oceanside Health Centre for their patience and understanding in these early days of operation of urgent care.”

There is a fact sheet available online that describes just what kind of ailments are treated through urgent care:

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