Primary and community care in Kamloops will be enhanced through a set of three-year funding initiatives announced by the province on Friday.
The three initiatives are part of $50 million in projects across B.C. intended to improve patient care and address soaring health-care costs.
“We know that often it is more effective and efficient to address frailty, chronic disease and mental illness outside of the hospital setting,” said MLA Kevin Krueger.
The initiatives include $2.2 million for a program called BreatheWell to address chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is one of the leading causes of death in Canada and incidence is increasing.
Interior Health has hired two respiratory therapists to work with COPD patients in the community, managing their symptoms and helping them to avoid hospital.
Another $2.7 million is directed at nine communities and will expand the services of the King Street Clinic in Kamloops, which ensures mental health clients receive medical care. Four full-time staffing positions will be added, including social workers, nurses and life skills workers.
“A large proportion of this population doesn’t have a family doctor,” said Cliff Cross of Interior Health. “At the same time, many have pressing health care issue that can exacerbate their illness and seriously impact quality of life.”
Another program called Home First aligns with the Better at Home program also announced on Friday by adding medical supports into the equation.
The initiative will help keep seniors who may be destined for residential care or who are at risk of hospitalization at home a little longer through the support of health-care workers.
A total of $3.5 million across the health authority will have 23 full-time equivalent staff hired to create small support teams in the community. They will work with clients’ physicians to provide individualized service and care plans.
In Kamloops, Home First has hired an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, two part-time rehabilitation assistants and a full-time registered nurse.