A primary health care network is coming to the Comox Valley.

It’s a team of doctors and other health providers, working together to provide improved health care in the valley.

Health minister Adrian Dix says team-based care will be the backbone of B.C.’s primary care system, “and will be how patients’ everyday health-care needs are met today, tomorrow, and beyond.” 

“͞These networks will work together to address long-standing gaps in everyday health care for people living in the Comox Valley,” Dix added.

As part of the network, up to 13 full-time health-care providers will be recruited over the next three years.

They’ll include a nurse practitioner, registered nurses, allied health-care professionals and a clinical pharmacist.

The province will ultimately provide roughly $2.2 million in annual funding to the network.

The network will see community partners work together to improve health care in the valley.

Courtenay-Comox MLA, Ronna-Rae Leonard, said by focusing on seniors, First Nations, and people with mental health and substance use issues, “the network will benefit the region’s most vulnerable people.”

Currently, the valley has eight family practice clinics with over 50 physicians participating in the implementation of team-based care within the primary care network, and 133 active physicians as part of the local Division of Family Practice. 

The network will partner new and existing health-care professionals with these clinics, Vancouver Island Health Authority, new Indigenous health resources, First Nations Health Authority resources and community organizations as part of a networked, team-based approach to providing integrated, whole-person care.

The network will focus on improving accessto the following populations:

  • people with mental health and substance use issues;
  •  Indigenous peoples; and
  • frail seniors and people with complex health issues.

The province hopes the network will allow faster, better access to the primary care team or provider, even on evenings and weekends, as well as being connected to appropriate services and supports in the community.

As part of this work, a new Indigenous wellness liaison position and an Indigenous wellness advocate position have been created to engage Indigenous peoples in the Comox Valley with primary care. 

In late 2019, primary care network funding was directed toward the Health Connections Clinic, which provides team-based care for people with complex medical and/or socio-economic needs in the valley. 

The team was expanded to add one nurse practitioner, two registered nurses and a social worker.

As well, primary care network funding has also added a significant increase in physician clinic time for those who access the Health Connections Clinic.

Over the next two years, remaining staff will be recruited into the network with a focus on providing services to the community based on need and discussions with partners.

“͞The creation of teams and increased attachment rates have been developed with the health-care professionals and service agencies at a community level,” Dix said. 

“As a result, this is a plan that is reflective and responsive to the care needs of the people they serve, and it will build and refine over time as recruitment and services ramp up.” 

The Comox Valley primary care network is a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Island Health, the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice, the First Nations Health Authority, K͛òmoks First Nation, Patient Voices Network and Métis Nation British Columbia.