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Contracted practitioners in Saanich help reduce waitlist for sexual health exams

Island Sexual Health tweaks its model to address urgent need in community
Removing more of the red tape that puts up barriers for general and nurse practitioners to practise in B.C. could alleviate some of the wait list and availability issues curently plaguing the province, says a University of Victoria nursing school trainer. (Black Press Media file photo)

Finding a physician isn’t easy for many Greater Victoria residents and many worry about long wait times for sexual health and physical exams, said Bobbi Turner, clinic executive director at Island Sexual Health in Saanich.

“There’s a huge demand for sexual health services, and we simply couldn’t generate enough income from MSP to support the organization and to fully staff it the way that we wanted to,” she said.

To lessen wait times, part of the equation has been to hire more physicians and pay them adequately.

“Physicians are now on a contract, so compensation is far superior to what was in place before,” Turner said, adding they’re now bringing on general practitioners and nurse practitioners for health exams to improve patient accessibility.

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“When patients can’t get in and they’re worried about something, that’s incredibly frustrating for them. So we try our best to make specific arrangements for those who obviously need to get in for more urgent care – but the fact remains that there’s limited capacity.”

Caelen Bright, onsite coordinator for the nurse practitioners masters program at the University of Victoria, said there are simply too many barriers when opening up clinical practices, especially for nurse practitioners.

“Nurse practitioners can fill the role of a family physician. A new NP-led clinic opened up on Yates Street and that was a huge project,” she said.

There are more than enough health care practitioners who could fill the gap and subsequently revolutionize healthcare in B.C., Bright said, they simply need spaces where they can practice.

“We need the province to make it easier for clinicians to join a physicians clinic, to join a walk-in clinic, to set up their own clinic – why do we have all these hurdles?”

Reducing the amount of bureaucracy related to opening new clinics would go a long way toward addressing the problem, Bright said, as there would be less delay and more incentive to open more practices such as the Yates Street clinic.

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