Patients in need of minor emergency procedures have a new option instead of the emergency room with the opening of an urgent care and walk-in clinic at The Real Canadian Superstore.
Drs. Daryl Leiski and Tracey Lotze are opening the Salveo Medical Clinic on Tuesday and will provide minor emergency care like stitches in addition to traditional general practice care in the walk-in setting.
"It's essentially family medicine with added services like suturing and mild asthma treatment," Leiski said.
"It's just a like doctor's office, if you come in and say you've got severe chest pain, you have to go to [the hospital]."
The new clinic, which is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, will provide services ranging from prescription refills and doctor's notes for employees, to care for patients who don't have a family physician or whose family physician is unavailable.
Both Leiski and Lotze work as physicians in the emergency room at the University Hospital of Northern B.C. and will continue that practice while operating the new clinic. Some other ER doctors who are not partners at Salveo will staff the clinic.
The doctors hope the facility will be able to take some pressure off the ER and reduce wait times at the hospital and other walk-in facilities in Prince George.
"The idea is not have to people wait here either," Leiski said.
"The idea is to cut waiting times down in the community, waiting times to get seen by any doctor - emergency, GP, other clinics."
Often wait times in Prince George are upwards of three hours, according to Lotze, when the ideal should be an hour.
Lotze said the clinic could be an important resource during the 2015 Canada Winter Games when the community will be full of visitors who could end up suffering from illness or minor injuries.
"We don't want to see that flooding the [emergency room] at that time, with people who could be dealing with bigger problems."
The facility includes eight examination rooms and two doctor's offices, however Leiski and Lotze only plan to use three of those rooms as the clinic gets off the ground but will add more capacity as needed. They are also exploring the idea of having other allied medical services available at the clinic in the future like a dietitian, a counsellor or renting out space to a family practice physician.
The concept of having a doctor's office inside a retail facility is common in other places and Leiski operated a clinic with a similar model in Comox. Leiski had been looking to open an urgent-care clinic for a few years and the timing worked out as Primacy, which has developed medical facilities at other Superstore locations, was looking to open one in Prince George.
Lotze said the fact that the clinic is inside a grocery store shouldn't scare people off from visiting Superstore.
"We're not going to be contaminating Superstore and you're not more likely to get sick if you come and shop here," she said, noting the clinic door will always be closed.
"There are always sick people anywhere where there's a pharmacy or anywhere you go there are sick people."