South Okanagan patients without a family doctor connected to care

November 8, 2019

With the development of a primary care network in the South Okanagan, 1100 people without a family doctor have been placed with a long term primary care provider.

“I feel so incredibly lucky,” says Jan Kostek, a former Edmonton resident who moved to the South Okanagan and was unable to find a family physician. She and her husband were placed with a Nurse Practitioner after signing up to the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOS) division’s centralized Patient Attachment List

“Finding health care was one of our biggest concerns moving here from Edmonton,” says Kostek. “We’d heard about the physician shortage, and we had no connections.”

The Patient Attachment List places patients with care providers on a first-come-first-serve basis, while still allowing for physicians to identify patients that have urgent acute care needs. Kostek read about the list in the newspaper. After filling out the application, she and her husband were placed with NP Kimberly Hayter, one of three new family practice nurse practitioners hired into South Okanagan Similkameen communities as part of a team-based care model supported through primary care networks. 

Hayter is thrilled to be a part of this new team approach in which NPs work closely with physicians and other health care providers. “Having the ability to discuss and plan health goals with patients is amazing, and I recognize how fortunate I am to have time to spend with patients,” she says. 

The SOS Division says people looking for a primary care provider in the area should enroll through the waitlist, and that it is working on many fronts to attract new physicians and nurse practitioners to the region.

BC is working to increase people’s access to ongoing primary care by introducing primary care networks. The team-based approach broadens the availability of supports for patients and enables more patients to be connected to a primary care provider—either a family physician or a nurse practitioner. 

SOS Division is one of 35 Divisions of Family Practice around the province. Divisions are community-based groups of family physicians working together at the grassroots level with community and health care partners to enhance patient care. They are funded by the General Practice Service Committee (GPSC), one of four Joint Collaborative Committees that are jointly funded Doctors of BC and the BC government.