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Editorial: No one should be without a primary health care provider

Flowerstone Family Health Clinic now open at its permanent location

Welcome news, but more still needs to be done.

This week, the provincial government noted the Flowerstone Health Care Clinic was now open at its permanent location at 744A Memorial Avenue.

Back in 2020, it opened temporarily, touting a nurse practitioner-led model that offered patient-centered, continuous, comprehensive and co-ordinated care with a focus on all life stages of care.

The new model was called a Patient Medical Home, where family physicians and nurse practitioners work to their full scope and are complemented by a team of health care professionals either in practice, or connected to their practice, through their network.

Minister of Health Adrian Dix said the clinic is making a difference in the lives of families by registering more residents without a primary care provider.

READ MORE: Flowerstone Family Health Clinic open in permanent Qualicum Beach location

To date, it has recruited five full-time equivalent (FTE) nurse practitioners, two FTE medical office assistants and an inter-professional health team, including a 0.5 FTE registered nurse and a 0.3 FTE pharmacist. Flowerstone is recruiting an additional FTE practitioner and two FTE physicians to join the multidisciplinary team.

“Now that the clinic is in its permanent location, it will provide even more opportunities for people to get attached to a primary care provider. Team-based care helps address health issues in a comprehensive way, and for seniors or other people dealing with complex medical issues, the continuity of care and co-ordination of specialist services will be especially valuable,” said Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker.

There are 2,150 patients registered at the clinic. People who do not have a primary care provider and who live in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, including Errington and Coombs to Bowser areas, can register online through the Health Connect Registry (HCR).

Again, good news - but the problem of finding a primary health care provider remains for many.

The PQB News recently had a poll (with hundreds of responses) that showed only 56 per cent of people report they do have a primary provider.

That number should be much closer to 100 per cent.

Routinely, we’re seeing doctors in the PQB area and elsewhere on the Island retiring or leaving for other locales - and they are not being replaced. Many families – and especially seniors – are being left in the lurch, and that’s simply unacceptable.

More needs to be done to recruit and retain physicians, or ensure continued access to nurse practioners. Until the outflow of physicians from the system is better addressed, too many will be left in a precarious position.

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