Planning is now underway to establish a Primary Care Network (PCN) within the Osoyoos Indian Band.
The Syilx Okanagan Nation Chief’s Executive Council announced their support of the province’s recent implementation of PCNs in a press release on Sept. 25 — which noted planning is underway to bring a network of primary care service providers to South Okanagan and Similkameen Indigenous communities.
The province announced in mid-September a $78.54 million investment to create 22 of the care networks across B.C. for residents who do not have a regular access to healthcare.
The healthcare networks are being created in collaboration and partnership with Syilx communities, including the already announced Kootenay Boundary and Central Okanagan PCNs and adding to the previously implemented PCN partnership with Penticton Indian Band.
The South Okanagan is now entering PCN planning with Lower and Upper Similkameen Indian Band and Osoyoos Indian Band, the North Okanagan PCN with Okanagan Indian Band, the Nicola Valley with Upper Nicola Band and the Revelstoke PCN.
“Access to community-based, culturally appropriate primary care services is crucial to the ongoing health of our Syilx citizens and Aboriginal people residing throughout our territory,” states a press release from the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA). “Accessibility is an ongoing challenge, with many of our member communities not having regular access to culturally appropriate primary care services. Trauma, colonization and poverty have played key roles in the limited access to primary care. The relationship between Indigenous people and health care services has been tenuous. With the recent announcement of Minister Dix on addressing racism in health care settings, collaborative, culturally appropriate planning and services remains a priority.”
The planning process has allowed relationships to be developed and enhanced with the sharing of the reality of health care services in the communities and addressing community priorities, according to the ONA.
“Our community health teams have been managing with very little resources and with partnerships are able to provide fuller primary care services in community,” the press release states.
The Kootenay Boundary Aboriginal Services Collaborative was developed to provide a space for Aboriginal people in the area to collaborate for PCNs and other service planning.
“Access to health care is crucial to the ongoing wellbeing and social determinants of health for Syilx members, early and good access to primary care can minimize ongoing health and mental health concerns,” said Allan Louis, Syilx Health Governance Representative.
Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle