A temporary urgent care centre has opened in Vernon. It has been created by expanding an existing primary care centre at 3306A 32 Ave.

“The new urgent and primary care centre will help connect more people in Vernon and the surrounding communities with the health care they need, when they need it,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a news release.

Next spring, the urgent and primary care centre will move to a new location.

Urgent primary care is care that people need within 12 to 24 hours, for conditions such as sprains, urinary problems, ear infections, minor cuts or burns.

In part, the new centres are designed to relieve pressure on emergency wards at B.C. hospitals. The government estimates more than one-third of all visits to Vernon Jubilee Hospital could be dealt with at an urgent primary care centre.

Once fully operational, the new Vernon centre is expected to handle about 42,000 patient visits annually.

The centres are also designed to better connect people who don’t have a family doctor with the health-care system. About 13,000 people in the Vernon area don’t have a family doctor.

Along with doctors and nurses, other professionals who work in the new centres include nurse practitioners, physiotherapists and social workers.

The centres are also open longer hours than a typical walk-in clinic.

This is the third primary care centre opened in the region served by Interior Health.

The first opened in Kamloops, and the second is expected to open by the end of December at Capri Centre Mall in Kelowna.