Okanagan Indian Band expands primary care clinic to include doctors

OKIB members now have access to doctors on reserve.

Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) opened its doors last week to a new primary care clinic located on reserve at the OKIB Health Centre.

The new clinic is a partnership between Shuswap North Okanagan Division of Family Practice and Interior Health. The primary care clinic, which is open to OKIB members living both on and off-reserve, is an expansion to the existing facility but now providing patients with access to doctors. 

“There has been a need for a long time for these types of services,” says Chief Byron Louis of Okanagan Indian Band.

“The idea has always been there, it’s based upon community growth.” 

OKIB, which is located at Inkumupulux (Head of Okanagan Lake), near Vernon, B.C., currently has 2030 members, with half of its members living on reserve. It’s the growing population that has fueled discussions of the need for a new primary care clinic.

“We also have a growing need when we start looking at that,” says Louis. “Even with half of our population being non-reserve, but band members, you’re starting to get into the size of a small community.”

The clinic is now open and accepting new patients via appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. The services available range from medical assessments, to diagnosis and treatment plans, diabetes and physical exams for newborns, seniors and elderly care. (See the full list here.) 

“It represents a new approach to providing health care services and access to doctors on OKIB

reserve land. Now, OKIB members can receive care at all stages of life, right here in

community,” Louis says. 

A healthcare system right at home in the community builds on pre-existing programs and services, but meets the needs of “the ageing population,” he explains.

“It’s good that you’re able to provide a home base for your health care.”

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