Primary Care Network means patients get faster access to mental health support

August 23, 2019

Patients with mild to moderate mental health and substance use challenges in Fraser Northwest are getting more timely care and support from local clinical counsellors as a result of new Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in Fraser Northwest.

PCNs link physicians, Nurse Practitioners and other allied and health authority service providers so that patients have access to co-ordinated primary care when and where they need it. The new Fraser Northwest Clinical Counsellor program enables physicians and NPs to quickly refer patients to one of five local clinical counsellors who are part of the Primary Care Network.  Not only do patients get faster help, the counsellors also provide a mobile service meaning patients can be seen in the location most convenient for them. 


The program is already having a profound impact on patient care. One counsellor reported that a patient felt so good after their initial session that she requested “spreading out sessions to work on techniques she had just learned for coping.” Another counsellor received a comment from a patient that the service “was very helpful so far.” Overall, patients are happy to hear about the program and to get immediate counselling support.

The initiative results from a collaboration of physicians at the Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice, health authorities, local clinical counsellors and other health care stakeholders. These robust partnerships were integral in rolling out the clinical counselling program in a timely way. Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice Executive Director Kristan Ash explains:

“Primary Care Networks are about implementing a system of care to wrap around the family physician and their patients. Our strategy was to take the initial resources and start deploying as soon as we could. In a few short weeks the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly filled with gratitude ... and we just got started!” 

Physicians appreciate the service as well—particularly the ease of referrals. Once they’ve referred a patient, GPs get a notification within 24 hours acknowledging receipt. “Then,” explains one doctor, “I get a notification within a week that my patient has an appointment and will be seen. Whatever system is going on, I like it from my end.”

Another physician in New Westminster praised the ease of communication and referrals as well, saying “I'm already feeling supported with having referred my patient to SHARE and the way they communicate with our office.” 

Learn more about Primary Care Networks and Patient Medical Homes here.