Redesign of Vancouver medical care will harm patients: critics
Chris Taulu is a patient of Evergreen Health Centre and said consolidating primary care service centres will negatively impact patients in her East Van neighbourhood. (JEREMY NUTTALL/ 24 HOURS)
Vancouver Coastal Health is defending its decision to eliminate primary care at three community health centres after critics went on the offensive Tuesday.
The health authority is consolidating primary and preventative care at Evergreen, South Vancouver and Pacific Spirit health centres into the Raven Song centre on Ontario Street in Mount Pleasant.
Critics of the plan, led by the BC New Democrats, gathered outside the Evergreen centre in East Vancouver near the border with Burnaby to speak out against the plan.
“These centres work well,” said BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix. “They are the last thing that should be closed by government.”
Dix said the consolidation will make it harder for people, particularly those with mobility issues, to see family doctors who are vital to their health.
But Dr. Rolando Barrios, senior medical director of Coastal Health, said the changes will not affect people’s ability to get regular care.
“They will not be abandoned, we will be creating outreach services or house calls if needed so we can actually go and meet the clients where they are,” Barrios said. “If anything we will improve their care.”
VCH implemented the changes after reviews showed the authority was not meeting its mandate to provide care to at-risk populations in urban areas.
It said the end result was patients going to emergency facilities to get care.
Opponents said ending primary and preventative care at neighbourhood health centres will cause more people to use walk-in clinics and emergency rooms.
Elderly patient Chris Taulu said the changes will cause a negative impact on older residents who frequent Evergreen.
“They need a doctor to see once a year, they just won’t go to another,” Taulu said.