Urgent & primary care
An Urgent and Primary Care Centre (UPCC) is the place you can go to get same-day care for urgent and non-life threatening health concerns within 12 to 24 hours. A UPCC is not an emergency department.
UPCCs are not Emergency Departments
For life-threatening illnesses or injuries, call 911 or go the emergency department to be assessed and treated immediately.
Urgent care is available on a walk-in basis, with patients assessed on arrival and then seen in order of urgency by a family doctor, nurse practitioner, registered nurse or social worker.
You can visit an UPCC whether you have a family doctor or nurse practitioner as your primary care provider to receive care for urgent, non-life-threatening illnesses.
On-site x-ray services are available at the City Centre UPCC, North Vancouver UPCC and Richmond UPCC.
Care providers will also assess your ongoing health care needs and help connect you with the appropriate services, at the UPCC or in the community.
Language interpretation services are available at all UPCCs.
Patients experiencing critical, life-threatening health concerns or mental health crises should call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency department immediately. Our emergency departments provide the highest level of care for medical issues such as chest pains, head injuries and signs of stroke or severe abdominal pain.
For all other health concerns, including referrals and prescription renewals, call your family doctor or nurse practitioner if you have one. Same-day appointments are often available.
When to visit a UPCC
- Sprains and strains
- Cuts, wounds or rashes
- High fever
- Troubles breathing
- Dehydration or constipation
- Mental health problems
- New or worsening pain
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I visit my family doctor or nurse practitioner?
For health concerns, including referrals and prescription renewals, the best option is to call your primary care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) first. Same-day urgent appointments are often available.
If you do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, here are some suggestions and options to find a family doctor in your community:
- College of Physician and Surgeons of BC - Physician Directory
- Divisions of Family Practice Choose your local division. Many divisions offer a service to connect patients to a family doctor.
- HealthLink BC Call 8-1-1 (If you are hearing impaired, call 7-1-1) for a free, 24-hour telephone service, staffed by registered nurses, pharmacists and dieticians. HealthLink BC will work with you to determine if there is a physician attachment service in your community.
- Ask your family or friends to introduce you to their own family doctor. Sometimes a doctor may take you on as a referral from an existing patient.
- If you are visiting another health care provider, such as a specialist, ask them if they know of any family doctors that are accepting patients.
- If you are visiting a walk-in clinic, ask the doctor if they would be willing to take you on as a patient.
When to go to an Emergency Department
Go to an Emergency Department for critical or life-threatening conditions or mental health emergencies. Our emergency departments provide the highest level of care for medical issues such as:
- Involvement in a major accident
- Trouble breathing or catching your breath
- Severe abdominal or chest pain/pressure
- Signs of stroke, for example facial droop, arm weakness or slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Uncontrolled bleeding
Your loved one may need emergency mental health care if they are:
- At risk of or are threatening to seriously harm themselves or others. You can also access crisis intervention and suicide prevention services.
- Seeing or hearing things.
- Believing things that are not true.
- Unable to care for themselves such as not eating, sleeping, bathing, getting out of bed or dressing.
- Still having trouble with symptoms even after they tried treatment with therapy, medication and support.
Wait times can vary depending on time, location and your level of need. People are seen in the Emergency Department based on how hurt or sick they are, which means the sickest people are seen first even if you've arrived before them. Many of Vancouver Coastal Health’s hospital sites provide 24-hour emergency services, however operating hours may vary. Call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to verify hours of operation for emergency services. View current Emergency Department wait times.
When to go to an Urgent & Primary Care Centre
Urgent and Primary Care Centres (UPCC) provide patient-centred care by a team of health care providers, including family doctors, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers and clerical staff.
They are for people who have an urgent but non-life threatening injury and/or illness, and need to be seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner within 12-24 hours. Some examples of injuries/illnesses that may be treated at a UPCC are: sprains and strains, high fever, worsening chronic disease, minor infections, and new or worsening pain.
UPCCs provide team-based, everyday health care. They provide urgent care when you are unable to see your family doctor or nurse practitioner and your injury/illness does not require emergency attention. Please visit an Emergency Department if you have a critical or life-threatening condition.
Where can I get a prescription renewal?
Speak with your local pharmacist for urgent medication refills and renewals. Some pharmacists can write new prescriptions.
Mental health & substance use services