Nurse practitioner Kimberly Hayter (left) with new patient Jan Kostek. The two were hooked up through the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice which connects patients with primary care professionals. (Submitted photo)

South Okanagan care givers connecting with patients

The South Okanagan Similkameen Division has connected over 1,100 patients and care givers

Moving from Edmonton to the Okanagan one of Jan Kostek’s biggest concerns was health care.

“We’d heard about the physician shortage, and we had no connections,” said Kostek in a news release and who decided to sign up with the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice (SOS Division) and was able to find a primary care provider in NP (nurse practitioner) Kimberly Hayter. “I feel so incredibly lucky.”

Kostek is just one of the more than 1,100 people who have been helped connect with primary care givers in the last six months by the SOS Division through its centralized patient attachment list.

“I read about the list in the newspaper, so I went online and filled out the application,” said Kostek. “My husband and I got a call while shopping. We were told we’d been placed with a provider and a first appointment was booked. We were thrilled.”

NP Hayter is one of three new family nurse practitioners hired into the community through the Ministry of Health Primary Care Network Funding.

READ MORE: New way to connect with South Okanagan-Similkameen family physicians

Nurse practitioners have graduate degrees and family medicine training, and are able to provide all primary care services with the exception of obstetrics.

“We love seeing Kim,” said Kostek. “She is thorough, knowledgeable and personable. She also communicates well and follows up promptly.”

The SOS Division is working on many fronts to attract new physicians and nurse practitioners to the region, including hiring a new family physician through an international graduate program, partnering with young physicians graduating from UBC, and being one of the first regions in the province to move to a new, team-based model of care.

Hayter for one is very happy to be part of the program.

“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 said.

READ MORE: Changing the picture of family medical care

The SOS Division Patient Attachment List is first-come, first-served, while allowing for physicians to identify patients that have urgent, acute-care needs, as well as ensuring that providers attaching new patients continue to have a manageable balance of patients under their care.

After signing up, patients will receive confirmation of their registration. Due to the ongoing physician shortage in the region, SOS Division is unable to say how long people will have to wait.

To get a general idea, patients can check the SOS Division website to see what month of sign up the organization is currently addressing. At this time, they are working to attach patients who signed up in June 2019.

On behalf of SOS Division, Heather Allen expressed the organization’s gratitude to the family physicians, nurse practitioners and Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC for Primary Care Network funding which is allowing them to bring new health providers into the region over the next three years.



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