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Local primary health-care network planning funded

B.C.’s Ministry of Health has provided funding to develop a primary care network (PCN) for the Sunshine Coast.
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B.C.’s Ministry of Health has provided funding to develop a primary care network (PCN) for the Sunshine Coast.

PCNs are a provincial initiative designed to improve patients’ access to care through a clinical network so that local health-care providers can easily share information and patients can receive services closer to home.

Vancouver Coastal Health, the Sunshine Coast Division of Family Practice (SCDFP)and the shíshálh Nation have formed a steering committee to develop a PCN service plan for the Coast.

Steering committees receive $150,000 to undertake this work, according to B.C.’s General Practice Service Committee’s (GPSC) website.

The project coordinator for the Coast initiative is Michelle Bruecker of the SCDFP. In an email, she noted that one of the first steps involved in developing a PCN will be reaching out for input from all involved in the local health-care system. The steering committee will be taking on that task and those with questions or who want to be involved in that process are invited to contact her at info@scdivision.ca. 

The GPSC website says that PCNs are designed to increase a community’s capacity to provide medical services for people without a primary care provider. Bruecker estimates that 5,000 Coast residents are currently without a family doctor and that “this means having sometimes long waits at walk-in clinics or at the local emergency department to get care.”

In her email, she noted that the goal of the work is to provide patients with enhanced access to a full range of team-based primary care services. Other priorities to be addressed are access to chronic disease and chronic pain management; mental-health and substance-use services; culturally safe and appropriate care; and services for vulnerable people including those living in poverty.

The province has established 43 PCNs throughout B.C., with a number of others, including the Sunshine Coast, at different points in the development process. A Ministry of Health fact sheet indicates that its goal is to have primary care networks in 70 per cent of B.C. communities by 2022.