Shuswap North Okanagan division to join the After Hours Care program pilot

December 20, 2023

The Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice will soon be added to the After Hours Care program pilot. The pilot, which started in September 2023 as a six-month endeavour through the partnership of the Family Practice Services Committee (FPSC) and HealthLink BC, is currently planned to start expanding across the province in April 2024.

Shuswap North Okanagan was selected to help test the expansion workflow in part due to its size of 40,000 attached patients—not too many that would overwhelm the pilot’s existing capacity, while not too few so as to make an insignificant impact. The region had also been identified as a priority for assistance by the Ministry as its largest community, Vernon, recently saw its last walk-in clinic close. 

Adding one more division will allow staff to learn how to effectively bring new communities into the program while establishing workflows to meet the needs of many more attached patients, physicians, and nurse practitioners joining the After Hours Care program. The provincial expansion will likely be a phased approach to maintain patient and staff ratios. The After Hours Care program currently covers 366,000 patients, which is about 70% of attached patients in the Langley, South Island, South Okanagan Similkameen, Thompson Region, and Victoria Divisions of Family Practice. 

FPSC approved the decision to add one more division at its meeting on December 8, 2023. Shuswap North Okanagan will be added in January 2024.

The After Hours Care program is a partnership between Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health through their joint FPSC. It is delivered using the operational infrastructure of HealthLink BC that currently provides 8-1-1, the Provincial COVID-19 Treatment Program, and other services. The After Hours Care program provides care to attached patients when their family practice clinic is closed evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays.