A local effort to improve health care delivery in the community took a step forward Thursday with the start of a Town of Osoyoos search for a consultant to author a feasibility study.
The Town has issued a Request for Proposals, looking for a consultant to prepare a study “relating to the development of a community health centre that will provide facilities for the delivery of health care services to the Osoyoos area and visitors.”
The Town has earmarked up to $110,000 for the study, which has among its goals the completion of a health services gap analysis, a determination of the feasibility of a central health services centre including the physical make-up of the facility, construction costs and the operating costs and whether such a project could attract private-sector investment for construction and operation.
It also asks potential partners to explore current health care funding programs that may assist in facility development.
The request defines current health care services delivered in the community as:
- family practitioners operating in two medical clinics;
- a Public Health Unit operated by Interior Health;
- hospital services and emergency care provided in Oliver;
- private practice dentist, physio, chiropractic and massage clinics;
- private and public mental health services;
- a medical laboratory; and
- other natural health practitioners.
It includes in its definitions of community the Town of Osoyoos, Area “A” of the Regional District and local portions of the Osoyoos Indian Band but also includes “the population that needs to be serviced as a result of tourism activities and winter snow birds.”
The Town’s action follows a series of discussions in 2017 related to expanding health care services in the community.
Last April, a local group — Residents for Health Care — proposed a not-for-profit walk-in clinic for the former Destination Osoyoos building — now the current home of Desert Sun Counselling.
It suggested the clinic would be one way to solve what it perceived to be a shortage of physicians in the South Okanagan and brought with its request a petition signed by more than 1,200 local residents.
The Town responded by promising to hire a consultant to review the community’s medical service needs.
In October, the Town learned it had received a $100,000 Rural Dividend Grant from the province to fund the study.