Access to specialist care doubles in rural BC community

“I couldn’t travel because I was paralyzed.  I had to rely on everyone else, my friends and my son, but they have jobs,” says patient Don Burnstad.”These outreach clinics have made it so much easier for me to access the care I need.”

Burnstad’s situation is not unique for residents located in and around the rural town of Princeton BC. For Burnstad and others living in the area, accessing specialist care has required at least three hours of travel through mountainous terrain to Penticton and other larger centres; a challenge resulting in missed appointments for many, and a lack of comprehensive care.  

Looking for solutions, a local Shared Care/South Okanagan Similkameen Division team, consisting of family physicians, specialists, Interior Health staff and other partners, came together to brainstorm on how to collaboratively address the problem. Their solution was to expand on the number of specialists traveling to Princeton to consult in outreach clinics.   

Finding space and utilizing resources available for physician travel, the project team successfully organized 46 specialty outreach clinics for 450 patients to receive specialist care, all within a one-year period. The range of specialties available to patients grew from four to 11 in the same timeframe, providing specialist expertise on respirology, orthopedics, general surgery, rheumatology and others.

And patients are not the only beneficiaries of the Doctors of BC/BC government project. Family doctors are grateful for the support of their specialist colleagues, and enthusiastic about their ability to coordinate care that is local and timely for their patients.  Learn more about the initiative from the press release here.


Respirologist Dr. Shannon Walker shares her experience and talks about the benefits of the project on CKNW Vancouver. Listen to the interview here.




Fran La Brash is grateful that visiting specialists
reduce her family’s need to travel to Penticton for care