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Rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities

Rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities

On April 20, 2020, B.C. announced the Rural, Remote, and Indigenous COVID-19 Response Framework. The collaborative framework is intended to help ensure all people living in rural, remote, First Nations, and Métis communities have access to the health care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.


• Establish Community Cohort Centres
• Develop Clinical Pathways
• Implement Community Self-Isolation Centres
• Enhancements to Service Delivery – Mental Health and Virtual Care
• Increase access to Lab Services
• Improve Patient Transfer Planning
• Policy and Direction
• Planning, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting
• Community Profile Information

In the Interior region, Interior Health (IH) has been partnering with First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), Métis Nation BC (MNBC), and other regional rural, remote, and Aboriginal partners to implement the framework.

What does this mean for you?

This Framework means that:

  • We have a COVID-19 response designed for you.
  • You will have access to testing when and where you need it.
  • You will receive timely COVID-19 test results and a health team will contact you and help you work through the next steps.
  • You will be able to isolate with the supports you need to keep you and your family safe.
  • We will work with you and your care team to access transportation if you need it.
  • We will learn from this framework to improve health services.

COVID-19 testing and collection

FNHA and Interior Health have developed a partnership process to support interested First Nation communities in identifying their community readiness to implement COVID-19 testing/collection. Collection may be implemented by First Nation community nurses and/or Nurse Practitioners.

Additionally, IH has set up COVID-19 Community Collection Centres to ensure that testing is available to Aboriginal populations living in rural communities.

See IH Testing Information page, for more information.

First Nation Health Service Organizations  COVID 19 community collection centres

LocationFacilityAddressPhone Number
ColdwaterScw'exmx Health Services103-2090 Coutlee Ave Merritt250-378-9745
Lower Similkameen Indian BandLower Similkameen Indian Band Building1420 Hwy 3, Cawston250-499-2265 Extension 129 or 144
Lytton First NationLytton First Nation250-256-8182
NooaitchScw'exmx Health Services103-2090 Coutlee Ave Merritt250-378-9745
Okanagan Indian Band Community Services and Development76 Head of Lake Road, Vernon
250-542-5094 or
Penticton Indian BandSnxastwilxtn Centre “A Place to Heal”198 Outma Sqilx’w Place250-493-7799
ShackanScw'exmx Health Services103-2090 Coutlee Ave Merritt250-378-9745
Simpcw (Barriere)Simpcw Health Department7555 Dunn Lake Rd, Barriere250-672-9925
or 778-220-8783
SplatsinSplatsin Health Centre5775 Old Vernon Road250-838-9538
Stswecem’c (Dog Creek)Dog Creek health Centre5822 Lily Ln.250-398-9814
Three Corners Health Society- Williams LakeThree Corners Health Society150 N. 1st Ave250-398-9814
Tlesqox/TooseyToosey Clinic36 Raven Rd
Toosey, Riske Cr
Ulkatcho/Anahim LakeAnahim Lake Nursing Station6674 Clinic Lane
Westbank First NationHealth and wellness building upstairs entrance1900 Quail LaneDrive through testing only
Williams Lake - TexelcSugar Cane Health Centre2780 Indian Dr.250-398-9814
Xatsull (Soda Creek)Soda Creek Health Centre3405 Mountain House Rd.250-398-9814
Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek)Canoe Creek Health Centre23 Meadow Lake Rd.250-398-9814
Yunesit'in/StoneYunesit’in Health Clinic and Government Office-6678 Taseko Rd Hanceville250-394-4041

• If your community or First Nation Health Service Organization is not listed and you are doing COVID-19 testing, please contact IH Communications.

Contact tracing

For information on Contact Tracing, please click HERE.

Self-isolation options

Following the guidance on the BCCDC website, there are times that require individuals to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Self-isolation will is advised for people who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, who have tested positive for COVID-19, who are returning from international travel, or who are a close contact of test-positive individuals and have been contacted by Public Health. Here is a guide to self-isolation at home.

Self-isolation supports are also in place to support individuals to isolate outside of their home or their community. Options include accommodation both in First Nations communities and in non-First Nations communities. You can work with your circle of care, including your primary care provider or IH Public Health, to identify which self-isolation option is best for you.

The Pandemic Health Coordinators are in place to support self-isolation and can be reached at 1-833-469-9803 toll free.

Being infected with COVID-19 can feel stigmatizing. We all have a shared responsibility to our well-being to stop stigma. Watch Healing in Pandemic Times on how we can address this issue.

Community cohort centres

Community Cohort Centres (CCCs) provide individuals who live in rural, remote, First Nations or Métis communities that are more than two hours away from a COVID-19 hospital, the option to self-isolate in a community with a designated COVID-19 hospital. The safe and timely transfer to hospital for assessment and critical care will be coordinated in the event that the individual’s health deteriorates rapidly.

CCCs are located in the following communities:
• Cranbrook
• Trail
• Penticton
• Vernon
• Kamloops
• Williams Lake

CCCs may also be appropriate if self-isolation in your home or community is not safe or practical, such as due to road accessibility or seasonal weather. For help accessing a CCC, contact Pandemic Health Coordinators by calling 1-833-469-9803 toll free.


IH, in partnership with the Provincial Patient Transfer Strategic Operations Committee (PPTSOC) has developed a COVID-19 Provincial Patient Transfer Surge Response Plan. This plan outlines the emergency and non-emergency transportation resources that will be activated to match a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. This includes resources such as air ambulance, ground ambulance and High Acuity Response Teams (HART).

The PPTSOC has placed an emphasis on early identification, referral, and transfer of COVID-19 clients to higher levels of care by non-emergency ambulance in order to support individuals and their families to access the appropriate levels of care. IH works with non-emergency transportation vendors on standby to support the movement of patients as needed. For more information, contact the IH Patient Transport Office at 1-866-929-4423.

Virtual care

Many communities face barriers to accessing in-person health-care services due to the unique geography in the Interior region. Virtual health has provided an innovative solution , and there has been a significant increase in virtual service delivery options in response to changing service delivery needs during COVID-19.

For more information on the First Nation Health Authority Doctor of the Day program, please click HERE.