The Town of Osoyoos is weighing its options when it comes to seeing an urgent primary care centre (UPCC) built within the town.
Council hired a third-party agency, Colliers Project Leaders, to assess the current gap in health care services and determine what health care options would best serve the community. Colliers presented their findings in a feasibility study to council on Oct. 1.
“A large percentage of the population in the Southern Okanagan Local Health Area is an aging senior one,” reads the feasibility study report. “Over the coming years, it can be expected to impact the supports and services needed in the community.”
According to the report, the BC government intends to create 10 new UPCCs in the province over the next year. Colliers developed a potential model for a UPCC within Osoyoos to deliver its feasibility study findings.
This potential UPCC’s primary care services would include eight physicians, one nurse practitioner, one primary care nurse and one mental health clinician. It would also include a walk-in and urgent care clinic while patients requiring emergency care will still be directed to the South Okanagan General Hospital.
After considering property already owned by the town, the study presented three areas that could potentially accommodate the UPCC – 89th street at Sagebrush Lodge, Spartan Drive, and Maple Drive. The preferred option identified by the study involved Interior Health partially demolishing and upgrading Sagebrush Lodge and then leasing the property to the town.
“In this leasing scenario, net operating income was substantially reduced but so too were capital costs compared to development ownership options,” reads the feasibility study. “(This scenario) represents value for money to the town.”
The study also found that Osoyoos would be able to build the centre for less capital cost since it has access to public grants and lower interest loans that a private developer does not.
“The town should work with Interior Health to determine the means to access the underlying funding for these Centres and determine how it can become eligible,” reads the feasibility study.
It was noted that provincial funding would be limited to the UPCC and not cover the costs for developing market rate housing. The recommendation by Colliers is to “consider shifting from developing market rate housing towards social, affordable or seniors housing.”
“The town should therefore work in collaboration with community physicians and Interior Health to advocate and pursue Provincial health care funding programs in British Columbia for the UPCC
component of the project,” reads the feasibility study.
While Mayor Sue McKortoff sat on the committee that oversaw the feasibility study, the rest of council was presented this information for the first time on Oct. 1.
McKortoff said that town staff will develop a report using this study and will present it to council in the upcoming weeks.
“We have to consider what are the logistics, should we do this, are the doctors on board,” said McKortoff. “We have two doctors at the clinic downtown and they may not want to move locations.”
She also commented that while the Sagebrush lodge is an “under used location” it is “farther removed from downtown, which is a concern.”
Council will also need a further breakdown of the cost associated with this project if they were to pursue it, but McKortoff said the need for this study was a longtime coming.
“We had people come to council and say we don’t like this set up, we can’t find a family doctor here, we need a walk-in clinic,” said McKortoff. “So that’s why we started this in the first place.”
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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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