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Interior Health making plans for an urgent primary care clinic in Williams Lake

City has had severe shortages in primary care access despite being a major hub for the region
Interior Health is planning for an urgent primary care clinic to be located in Williams Lake. (File image)

Interior Health (IH) is moving ahead with planning for an urgent and primary care centre in Williams Lake.

Kelly Dillon, director of clinical operations 100 Mile House, Clearwater, Blue River, Alexis Creek, Tatla Lake and primary care Cariboo Chilcotin, said while it is not yet official, she can say the community has been identified as a centre in need of one, and so IH is taking steps to prepare. A potential location has been identified and IH is doing what they can in advance of an official announcement.

Dillon said the hope would be to have a UPCC in Williams Lake as soon as November of 2024 to January 2025.

Urgent and primary care centres (UPCCs) provide access to same-day, urgent, non-emergency health care. Operating much like a walk-in clinic, UPCCs are often open evenings, weekends and statutory holidays though actual hours vary by clinic.

“An urgent primary care clinic takes a lot of the weight off of the emergency room for the lower levels of health care need that is required,” said Dillon.

UPCCs provide an alternative to visiting an emergency department for non-emergency issues and provide access to primary care for those without family physicians.

For example, patients who require medical attention within 12 to 24 hours for something like a sprain, mental health concerns, or prescription renewals can visit an urgent and primary care centre. Follow-up appointments for dressing changes, and other types of non-emergency care can also be done at a UPCC.

The Ministry of Health directs the application process and Interior Health has been moving through it.

“We’ve gone through everything that we need to in order to bring it to the community,” said Dillon, noting securing staff as well as the required contractors to make modifications to the site will be some of the challenges still ahead.

Williams Lake residents without family physicians have had to go to the emergency room at Cariboo Memorial Hospital for medical treatment if they required in-person care as there has been no walk-in clinic in the community since June 2020.

READ MORE: Williams Lake city council requests in-person meeting with Interior Health

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