December 9, 2023

I am excited to announce the new Quatse Community Health Centre, to open its doors June 1, led by myself and Dr. Howie Lee, and to be joined by a third physician on July 1. Here I would like to explore my rationale and goals with this innovative approach to healthcare.

I believe that Port Hardy is an extraordinary community that has been poorly served by our health-care system and, currently, is limited by a lack of primary care providers. There are various reasons for this, many political, but not necessary to flesh out here. Those of you who have followed recent media stories may better understand.

I am deeply committed to growing a sustainable primary care system for Port Hardy/North Island drawing on the lessons I’ve learned from working rural/remote/urban regions across four provinces over the past decade.

I believe a non-profit (non-Island Health Authority) Community Health Centre to be the model to pursue. There are well established parallel examples in Saanich as well as Whistler that are highly successful – I am actively in contact with the physicians/leaders from these non profit Community Health Centres.

Essential to the success of our non-profit Community Health Centre is community support/direction. At its foundation is a commitment to evidence-based, culturally safe, accessible primary healthcare, led by physicians. We build out from that to incorporate allied health providers/team members including pharmacists, Associate Physicians/Physician Assistants, nurses/nurse practitioners, social workers, educators, yoga instructors, physio and occupational therapists, traditional healers and medicine people. We use a Lifestyle Medicine based lens that strives for medical approaches to optimize wellness rather than just heal illness.

Our Community Health Centre, in the Thunderbird Mall, across from Hardy Bay Drugstore, located on Kwagu’l First Nation traditional territory, will be grounded in principles of cultural safety. True reconciliation is a cornerstone, an iterative process of continued learning/reflection. The space, just shy of 3000 sqr ft – to start, with eight clinic rooms on the perimeter, and a central ‘activity’ room that can be used for yoga/stretching/group medical visits/etc – will be partly (half the rooms) dog friendly for patients who wish to bring their dogs for therapy/self-soothing purposes.

My goal is to have the first patient through the doors by June 1. I need help to make this happen. Join our community on Facebook at “Quatse Community Health Centre” or Twitter @QuatseCHC.

For ideas/topics you would like explored, please email suggestions to: [email protected] or find me online Facebook/Twitter “Alex Nataros MD” Note this is Not for personal medical questions – for these you should present to clinic/emerg or call 8-11.

Dr. Alex Nataros is a resident of Port Hardy and has practiced medicine since graduating from McGill University in 2012

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