A new urgent and primary care centre in Esquimalt is up and running, but it’s missing a key aspect.
Located at 890 Esquimalt Rd., residents can make appointments at the clinic for non-life-threatening injuries or illnesses and when they need to see someone within 12 to 24 hours.
The centre will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., including on statutory holidays and will be a total team of 11 full-time equivalent healthcare workers, including physicians, nurses, mental health and substance-use consultants and social workers.
Township of Esquimalt council says they have been working to make the facility a reality for a while, largely due to concerns that far too many residents were spending way too much time in an emergency waiting room.
“We had someone do a needs assessment that indicated a really large percentage of our people were not attached to family doctors and that has only been getting progressively worse,” says Barbara Desjardins, the Mayor of Esquimalt.
But even though the clinic is open, it isn’t able to offer its patients what it promises quite yet — family doctors.
The clinic falls under the provincial government’s UPCC strategy, which aims to resolve an ongoing family doctor shortage by attaching patients to a regular primary care provider if they do not have one.
Unfortunately, that won’t happen at the Esquimalt facility, at least for now. That’s because the clinic doesn’t have enough physicians to accept patients at the moment — something that is expected to change in 2022.
“There are challenges here in the Capital Regional District for two sets of reasons, this situation isn’t static, our existing core of doctors seized, quite a few retirements,” says Adrian Dix, the Minister of Health.
Yet, officials hope by launching these clinics first it will attract doctors to the region.
“We need to have people attached to family practitioners and the team around them, so that’s the ultimate goal,” says Desjardins, adding, “I know that they’ll be getting good urgent care, good primary care, just not with that continuity that we have as the ultimate goal.”