The closure of Vernon’s last remaining walk-in clinic will see dollars pumped into other areas of local healthcare.
The Sterling Centre clinic had its last day of operation Nov. 15, leaving a void for those seeking healthcare.
Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, says significant investments will be made to help Vernon Jubilee Hospital and community primary care deal with the fallout.
“What I’m focused on is increasing visits to UPCC (Urgent Primary Care Centre), building up the primary care network and providing better care for people in Vernon,” said Dix.
“My focus is the people of Vernon and their health care.”
The investment decisions, he adds, won’t just be made by him but by the doctors in the community.
“That’s the way we need to do those things, and that doesn’t mean the doctors will always agree on the priorities but it means they will always be involved.”
That includes the doctors that were from the clinic.
Dix maintains that “significant offers of every kind” were made to Sterling to keep it open.
“They made a decision in spite of that. I’m dissappointed the clinic chose not to take up those offers.”
But he respects the decision in a primary care system that is publicly funded but often delivered by doctor’s offices.
“We’ve very significantly invested in primary care in Vernon and we’re doing that not with one clinic but with all the community of doctors, divisions and practices, First Nations and others,” said Dix. “The lead advocate of that has been our MLA Hardwinder Sandhu.”
The new payment model - the longitudinal family physician payment - has seen 3,900 doctors join since it was rolled out in February 2023.
Dix calls it a “revolutionary change led by doctors.”
But with change, he admits there are challenges being faced.
“Issues at hospital, issues of maternity care, we’re working through all those issues.”