Semantics? Not!
Sheila Achilles is passionate about primary health care, especially when the term is used incorrectly. Achilles is Saskatoon Health Region’s director of primary health care, not primary care. “Primary care refers to the first point of contact with physicians or nurse practitioners (NP) at a clinic,” explains Achilles. “If you go to see your doctor or NP for treatment or to the emergency room, you are using the primary care system.”

Primary health care is the general term applied to a more wholistic approach to health care. “Primary health care is usually delivered by an inter-professional team of health care providers who together look at the overall health of the community and the individual,” says Achilles. Primary health care recognizes that the social determinants of health affect the health of an individual, family and community and that all sectors have a role in improving the health of our communities.

According to the World Health Organization, the five principles of primary health care are: accessibility, population health; public participation; intersectoral collaboration; and appropriate resources. Examples of team-based primary health care in Saskatoon Health Region include the White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon, the Wynyard Community Clinic, and the Duck Lake school team.

Saskatoon Health Region has identified primary health care as one of its 2012-13 priorities.