A “primary care centre” is being developed which may help make Fort St. James more attractive to physicians and other health care practitioners.
Northern Health has gone public with some of what they have been working on with local community leaders, First Nations in the area, Dr. Stent and a consultant to help address the physician shortage in the area.
According to Sue MacDonald, northern interior medical director, “there is significant work going on within Northern Health,” and all parties are “working as a collaborative team to develop this primary care clinic.”
The plan is to move from a traditional family physician model to one they are calling a primary care home model.
This means that instead of a private medical clinic where physicians work independently and are paid via a fee for service model, they would work in a clinic alongside other health care practitioners such as nurse practitioners.
Physicians would also be paid using an alternative payment model.
The hope is this different model will provide a more “multi-disciplinary and integrated team working together to take care of the patient,” said MacDonald.
The health care practitioners in this model may include physicians, nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, and mental health and addictions counsellors.
“It allows for a more sustainable type of model to provide for care,” said MacDonald.
She hopes this model will also help to address the physician recruitment and retention issues the community has been suffering from, because other communities using this model have had good success in recruiting and retaining physicians over the long term.
The model is also aimed at managing more chronic or long-term illnesses, and hopefully therefore decreasing the need for emergency room care for these patients.
However, Northern Health is still planning to maintain the emergency room once there are doctors to staff it, and it would still be aimed at more acute medical care.
MacDonald said the group is not ready to go public with how the model will look in Fort St. James for patients, and there is not time frame yet for the implementation of the new model, but the group will meet again the week this paper is published.