It will soon be even harder for Vernonites to access health care locally with the closing of the Primacy North Okanagan Medical Clinic.
The walk-in clinic in the Vernon Superstore will have its last day of operation Sept. 30. The clinic is closing doors due to a lack of doctors.
A shortage of doctors has affected the clinic in the past; in April it shut down for seven days due to the doctor shortage. The same thing happened in August 2022, when the clinic was closed for 10 days.
Interior Health (IH) does not oversee operations of the clinic, but did say the closure is concerning amid a shortage of family doctors in the area.
“We recognize North Okanagan Medical Clinic’s upcoming closure is concerning for patients and are working collaboratively with the Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and community partners to support primary care services in Vernon,” an IH spokesperson said in an email.
With the closure, there will only be the Sterling Centre walk-in clinic left in the community. However, residents can still access primary care services through their family doctors, family nurse practitioners or book same-day appointments at the Vernon Urgent and Primary Care Centre, operated by IH.
On July 5, the province announced it is expanding the Health Connect Registry to better connect primary-care providers to people who need them. British Columbians can register themselves and their families online to get a primary-care provider through the registry at healthlinkbc.ca/health-connect-registry.
Pharmacies can also help with routine and emergency prescription renewals. As of June 1, people in B.C. can get prescriptions from their pharmacists for contraceptives and medications to treat 21 minor ailments.
“While this does not replace a family doctor, it is a helpful support network people in B.C. can easily access,” IH said.
People can also call Healthlink BC at 811 to speak with a health service navigator, access health services and connect with a nurse, dietician, exercise professional, pharmacist or, if applicable, a physician.
The Sterling walk-in clinic on 25th Avenue is open Monday to Friday from noon to 7 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.