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Just ask Angie: Sharing health care options

For those who don’t have a family doctor, here are some resources
Just Ask Angie file
Angie Theilmann is a information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre. She has a biweekly column with the Coast Reporter.

Q: What resources exist if I don’t have a family doctor? 

A: Not having a family doctor is all too common these days. With April being our Be The Change campaign’s “Health Access” month, it seemed doubly appropriate to share resources to help you access physical or mental health care, and avoid non-emergency trips to the ER. 

First off, if you have not done so already, register with the Health Connect Registry (via Healthlink BC 8-1-1) to get on the waitlist for a local family doctor or nurse practitioner by calling 8-1-1, or by following the steps online: . (More on what the 8-1-1 service offers will be covered below.) 

Same-day first-come-first-served medical appointments are available at the various health clinics on the Coast if you don’t have a family doctor. 

• Cowrie Medical Clinic (#102-5699 Cowrie St, Sechelt): For same-day bookings, call 604-670-6222 beginning at 10 a.m. Monday to Friday. On Saturdays, Cowrie takes same-day bookings specifically for patients without a family doctor. The same booking procedure applies. Cowrie medical also provides maternity care for patients outside of their clinic who may not have a family doctor, or they can help set you up with a midwife. 

• Upstream Family Medicine (#108-4330 Sunshine Coast Hwy, in ts’ukw’um/ Wilson Creek): Call 604-885-6400 beginning at 9 a.m., Monday to Friday for same-day bookings. 

• Gibsons Medical Clinic  (#211-1100 Sunshine Coast Hwy, Gibsons - in the IGA mini-mall): For same-day bookings, call 604-886-2868 at 8:30 a.m., Monday to Friday. 

Note: for all the above clinics, if you are not able to make a phone call, you can show up in person when bookings open, though as with calling on the phone, appointments are never guaranteed. Pender Harbour Health Centre does not have availability at this time – they do not have a family doctor yet. 

Healthlink BC 8-1-1 is a free B.C. health information and advice phoneline where you can connect with a nurse, doctor and more. When you call 8-1-1 you will be connected with a health service navigator. Interpreters are available in 180 languages (Simply state the language, eg. “Tagalog” and an interpreter will join the call. You can be connected to a nurse, doctor, registered dietitian, qualified exercise professional, or pharmacist. Navigators are available any time of the day or night, every day of the year. HealthLink BC’s virtual physicians are doctors from across B.C. They can help you stay healthy, get better, manage chronic conditions and seek further treatment, if needed. Video conferences are available. To contact Healthlink BC: dial 8-1-1. If you use web-enabled phone services like Skype or Google Talk, dial 604-215-8110. British Columbians who are deaf and hard of hearing can access HealthLinkBC through a Teletypewriter (TTY) relay service by dialing 7-1-1, and as well by using Video Relay Services (VRS). 

B.C. pharmacists can now prescribe medications for a variety of contraception options, as well as minor ailments, including: hemorrhoids, pink-eye, urinary tract infections (UTI), eczema and diaper rash and many more conditions. Contact your local pharmacy for the most up-to-date information about appointment or walk-in appointment availability. 

Online options to access care exist and there are many. Depending on the health services or the topic of your doctor’s appointment, some services are pay-per-use, some are free. Some may require you to download an app. Fees may not apply if you have benefits coverage through your insurer or employer, or if your consultation includes only services covered by the province. For instance, Tia Health allows you to book online doctor’s appointments for general consultations and to get help with prescriptions, referrals, requisitions, mental health, and more. More information: Telus Health offers virtual consultations with doctors and other practitioners as well. If you don’t have provincial health insurance, the cost is 70$ per visit. More info: The Resource Centre can help you look more into how virtual options might work for you.  

Adult sexual health clinics: For sexual health concerns for adults older than 24, such as STI testing, call Gibsons Health Unit to access the health units’ adult sexual health clinics, 604-984-5070. 

Youth sexual health clinics for ages 13 to 24: These operate out of the three health units on the Coast. Services can include sexual health/mental health/immunizations/specialist referrals/birth control access/HIV care testing/harm reduction supplies and more. 

• Sechelt Clinic (5571 Inlet Ave), Wednesdays, 3 to 5 p.m., call to book 604-314-8253. 

• Gibsons Clinic (821 Gibsons Way), Mondays 3 to 5:30 p.m., call to book 604-984-5070. 

• Pender Harbour Health Centre (5066 Francis Peninsula Rd), Tuesdays 3 to 5 p.m., call to book 604-883-2764. Good to book in advance, first-come-first served walk-ins welcome too. 

If booking for Sechelt or Madeira and you can’t get through, Gibsons can book you in for those clinics too. 

Stay in the know for health-related updates for the Sunshine Coast on the Sunshine Coast Division of Family Practice website: Also, it’s worth visiting to find more healthcare-related resources. If you search using the button called “healthcare,” you’ll find a variety of resources. 

As always, under the umbrella of our Resource Centre Info Hub, we encourage you to make an appointment with us or drop-in and we can look into care services and health resources, based on your specific situation. As well, if accessing any of these services is a barrier due to a disability or whatever reason, please let us know, and we will do our best to help. 

Angie Theilmann is an information and referral specialist at the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, your community information hub at 107A - 5710 Teredo. The centre is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointments are recommended to be sure we are available to help you. Note: on some days, we can book clients after 2 p.m. Contact us: [email protected] or 604-885-4088. Search our online resource directory at