Penticton primary network clinic opens

Kelly Hawes, the Ponderosa Primary Care Clinic manager and clinic support lead for the South Okanagan-Similkameen Division of Family Practice cut celebratory ribbon Friday. The clinic has been operating as a Primary Care Network clinic since Nov. 4.

Penticton’s first Primary Network clinic celebrated its grand opening Friday.

Ponderosa Primary Care Clinic boasts six family physicians, two nurse practitioners, two registered nurses, a registered dietician, a social worker and a registered dietician all under one roof.

The clinic located at 2504 Skaha Lake Rd. began seeing patients as of Nov. 4.

It’s the first of its kind thanks to a partnership between the Ministry of Health, Interior Health, the South Okanagan-Similkameen Division of Family Practice, the First Nations Health Authority and the Penticton Indian Band.

Health Minister Adrian Dix had announced in August upward of 22 health care professionals would descend upon the South Okanagan within the next three years.

While not present for the ribbon cutting, Dix sent words of congratulations, saying the clinic “is a result of the hard work, dedication and collaboration” of all those involved.

“In only a few months, residents are already seeing the results of collaboration and are benefiting from it,” he wrote.

“It illustrates clearly that we are stronger when we work together, and that it is only with teamwork that we will create a healthier province for generations to come.”

Kelly Hawes, the Ponderosa Primary Care Clinic manager and clinic support lead for the South Okanagan-Similkameen Division of Family Practice, said it took an immense amount of hard work in the past three months to make the clinic a reality.

“The big move of three offices into the (centre) happened over a weekend,” she said. “Not only did our team move their clinics, but also changed the way they practiced. We moved to extended hours … and beginning in January, we’ll begin providing services on weekends.”

It’s a “new approach to primary care” she explained, with each practitioner supporting one another under the same roof.

Dr. Tim Phillips said the centre began as a “blank slate” about 18 months ago.

“The goal that was put to us was … try to envision that you worked in a practice where all those different elements are and what some of those different providers would be, that would really allow you to provide the best of services to those people in your practice,” he said.

“We feel that this is the way of primary care for the future. Our hope is that this is the first of many clinics … to come.”