Dignitaries officially opened the new Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Cranbrook during a virtual press conference on Monday. Photo courtesy livestream screenshot.
Dignitaries officially opened the new Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Cranbrook during a virtual press conference on Monday. Photo courtesy livestream screenshot.

Dignitaries officially opened the new Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Cranbrook during a virtual press conference on Monday. Photo courtesy livestream screenshot. Dignitaries officially opened the new Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Cranbrook during a virtual press conference on Monday. Photo courtesy livestream screenshot.

New primary care health centre opens in Cranbrook

A new health care facility is opening in Cranbrook, aimed at providing care for urgent but non life-threatening conditions, and connecting local residents to a regular primary care provider.

The Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC), which officially opens on Wednesday (Dec. 8) at the Baker St. Mall, will initially be staffed full-time by 15 health care professionals — with a planned build out to 28 — consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physiotherapists and social workers.

“It’s an exciting day,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, during a virtual press conference announcing the opening. “We’re celebrating the new Urgent and Primary Care Centre in Cranbrook, which is set to open in just a couple of days on Dec. 8, and that is really an outstanding thing, a significant thing.”

It is the first UPCC located in the East Kootenay, the seventh in Interior Health and the 26th in the province. It is a collaboration between Interior Health, the Ministry of Health, the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District, the East Kootenay Division of Family Practice and the Ktunaxa Nation.

The centre will feature a co-located, team-based care hub, hosting other care supports from around the community while strengthening integration and co-ordination of primary care services, according to the province.

“These urgent and primary care centres, while we always thought would be important working with the divisions of family practice to build team-based care in our province, have become essential in communities during this pandemic,” said Dix. “They’ve been doors that have been opened, they’ve relieved pressure in emergency rooms, they’ve provided attachment to family practice physicians and nurse practitioners.

“They’ve really played that critical role in providing care for people, particularly in off-hours, but also throughout regular hours in communities across B.C.”

While announced as a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week health care facility, the Cranbrook UPCC will be opening with a phased approach.

From Dec. 8-10, the centre will be open from 1:30-5:30 p.m. After that, it will open Monday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. As more health care staff are recruited to the centre, hours of service will increase, according to the province.

“The UPCC will help people get connected to a regular primary care provider and the health care professions in that centre will get to know the people that come through their doors and provide on-going care as well as urgent care, which may be in the evenings, weekends and on holidays,” said Susan Brown, President and CEO of Interior Health.

Dean McKerracher, the chair of the Kootenay East Regional Hospital District board, noted that there are approximately 10,000 people between Cranbrook and Kimberley who do not have a physician.

“That’s just in Cranbrook and Kimberley, never mind the region, so these facilities are much needed and we thank you for that,” said McKerracher, who also serves as the mayor of Elkford.

Dr. Shaun van Zyl, board chair of the East Kootenay Division of Family Practice, touted the co-location of health care services at the centre.

“This Urgent and Primary Care Centre brings us closer to our goal of access to culturally safe and appropriate primary care for everyone who needs and wants it in the Cranbrook and Kimberley area,” Dr. van Zyl said.

Jared Basil, a community wellness champion with the Ktunaxa Nation, opened the ceremony with a traditional prayer, and also presented a drum that will be featured in the facility “as honour and symbolization of the partner and the steps we’ve taken.”

Ktunaxa language has been included along every step of the way and will be featured inside and outside of the building, Basil added.

In terms of funding the capital costs of the centre, the province has earmarked $1.8 million, while the regional hospital district is providing in $1.2 million.