Thousands seeking a family doctor in the Eastern Fraser Valley have called “PAM” for help.
PAM, or Patient Attachment Mechanism was a service set up three years ago to “match” unattached patients to family doctors and nurse practitioners from Chilliwack, to Agassiz-Harrison, and Hope, by Chilliwack Divison of Family Practice.
“Due to increasingly high call volumes over the past year, the phone service used for (PAM) registration has evolved to better serve the callers,” according to a release from the Division.
The emphasis is shifting from calling, to self-registration online.
The new online registration takes a minute or two. A list of health care options to try while waiting for patient “attachment” is fired off as an email.
But it’s still a waitlist they’re working with. For those living in Hope and the Fraser Canyon, they can begin the process of attachment within weeks. But for those in Chilliwack and Agassiz-Harrison, it can still take up to five months to find a family doctor or nurse practitioner at this point.
People who sign up get a call as soon as there’s an opening, or “capacity” for patient attachment.
“The Patient Attachment Mechanism is working to create one access point for people who do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, and are looking for one,” said Katrina Bepple, Chilliwack Divison of Family Practice executive director.
PAM was created specifically because of reports of many “orphaned” patients seeking a GP.
“Websites had outdated lists of doctors accepting, so people would have to call multiple clinics only to hear they didn’t have the capacity to take on more patients,” said Bepple.
Although PAM is a waitlist, meaning even though they can’t necessarily help people immediately, they have been successful in attaching more than 3,600 people to medical practitioners since 2014.
While people are still waiting, they can log on to www.medimap.ca for the closest walk-in clinics and the corresponding wait-times.
Unattached patients are asked “not to reapply” online if they have previously registered by leaving a phone message, as the lists will be combined and duplicates may slow down the process.
For anyone without online access, the phone system is still available. Call 604-795-0034 Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Register online at https://www.divisionsbc.ca/chilliwack/pam