Interior Health (IH) recently reminded the public that the Waneta Primary Care Clinic is still open in Trail. The health authority has taken over the clinic after Dr. Blair Stanley relocated to Vernon to start a new practice. Community Health Service Administrator with IH, Cheryl Whittleton, says its the first time the health authority has taken over a physician clinic in Trail and felt it was important to continue the service.

“If the clinic closed, potentially all these patients would have been scrambling to find another health care provider.”

The two existing nurse practitioners (NP), Lori Verigin and Chelsea Van Vliet, will continue providing day-to-day primary care and are accepting new patients starting Monday, January 14. In terms of the care now provided, IH says NPs have a scope of practice similar to a family practice physician and provide comprehensive holistic and patient-centred clinical care. That includes the diagnosis and management of disease/illness, prescribing medications, ordering/interpreting laboratory and diagnostic tests, and initiating referrals to specialists.

There have been challenges replacing doctors in communities across the Province and Whittleton explains IH is looking at providing support in new ways.

“We’re learning that often times other providers such as registered nurses, social workers can support existing clinicians in a team based model to provide patient care and also helping keep some care in communities where they’re struggling to recruit the traditional physician model.”

These changes have already been implemented in Grand Forks where registered nurses and social workers have been introduced into physician clinics to help spread the work load and open up more appointment times.

Whittleton says those changes will be adapted on a larger scale and likely factor in at the Waneta Primary Care Clinic.

“Do we need to put a registered nurse into that clinic also, and that’s the work that, you know, we’re taking our learnings from Grand Forks and looking at how we can spread them in the rest of the Kootenay-Boundary.”

IH is currently doing primary care planning with the Division of Family Practice and Whittleton expects there will be an update soon.

Individuals who are looking for a primary care provider can stop by the clinic on the upper floor of the Waneta Plaza Mall (242 – 8100 Highway 3B) or call the clinic at 250-368-0053.