The Bowen Island Community Health Centre has revealed its initial roster of health care professionals who will be providing service at the new health care facility on Miller Road.
The Bowen Island Health Centre Foundation (BIHCF) announced the list in a press release on Wednesday, along with the news that operational funding and approvals were secured from both the BC Ministry of Health and Vancouver Coastal Health. This allows the centre to make contracts with doctors, nurses, and other staff official.
“This is the final stamp of approval we needed to get on with the business of delivering primary care and other health care services on Bowen,” said Tim Rhodes, BIHCF chair, in the release. “It is a momentous day for the community, for patients, for our volunteer board and everyone who has supported our vision of putting community health care in community hands.
Initial staff will include Dr. Susanne Schloegl and Dr. Matt Blackwood, both of whom BIHCF says were “instrumental in helping to advance the BICHC and develop the model for community health care delivery on Bowen.” Additionally, Dr. Lindsay Downey has moved to Bowen from Ontario to work at the Health Centre. She’s worked as a family physician for the past 14 years.
Laura Fitzgerald will be joining the health centre as a nurse practitioner, while Margit Brenner will take on the role of office manager and senior medical office assistant. Rita Dempsey will also be part of the medical office assistant team, having previously served in the role with Dr. Schloegl. Colleen O’Neil will be the centre’s community health worker.
The centre will also serve as the new home of the Bowen Island Dental Group, comprised of Dr. Elysa Kliman, Dr. Peter Kearney, and Dr. Clive Jones. The trio will provide a variety of dental services, with more information available at www.bowenislanddental.ca. A lab collection space will also be on-site.
As for future clients, another family physician is scheduled to join the health centre in January 2024.
An opening date for the Health Centre is still to be finalized, and depends on both construction and operational plans being finished. Health Centre executive director Suzanne Saatchi, who was key in securing the final approvals, said these plans are now the focus thanks to the recent news.
“Our vision has been to create an integrated and multi-disciplinary health centre on the Island, and we are poised to do just that,” said Saatchi.
Anyone wishing to become a patient at the Health Centre can do so through GP Link, run by the North Shore Division of Family Practice. The site can be found at https://ns.searchdoctors.ca/. Prospective patients, whether they already have a family doctor or nurse practitioner or not, can register themselves and family members by choosing Bowen Island as their preferred location. Patients cannot register through the BIHFC or at the Health Centre. Patients who currently have either Dr. Schloegl or Dr. Blackwood as their doctors do not need to re-register.
The Health Centre will have some walk-in hours each day, but priority will be given to registered patients. For emergencies people are still advised to call 911 for assistance.
Overall the centre received more than $8 million in donations from more than 550 Bowen residents to help make it a reality, along with a $1 million grant from the provincial government.