December 11, 2023

District works with rural health organizations, hopes for Interior Health’s inclusion in new space

Sicamous is focusing on community rural health projects while simultaneously ramping up its efficiency.

Karen Eastland, Community Health Centre manager, presented an update to the district committee of the whole on Oct. 11.

The centre has garnered 93 new patients this year and has a patient panel, of 2,724. Eastland said the total panel is significantly larger, but many have not been to see a practitioner in three to five years and are not considered active.

Since January, the number of visits to the centre totaled 10,243 (calculated around Oct. 4), with 968 walk-ins and 4,345 telehealth appointments.

Mayor Colleen Anderson remarked the number of patients had grown significantly since the district made the decision to buy the practice.

Read more: Sicamous to purchase retiring doctor’s business, take over management

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Looking ahead, Eastland spoke of a focus group she took part in along with Coun. Pam Beech in which Dr. Jude Kornelsen, associate professor in the department of family practice at the University of British Columbia, spoke about rural health projects. The plan initially had Dr. Kornelsen and associates visiting rural health regions, said Eastland, but wildfires and travel restrictions didn’t allow for that. The virtual meeting’s aim was to gather information about what some community health centres are doing to engage their residents and to share ideas.

The Rural Health Network recently conducted a ‘gap analysis’ which had over 700 responses, creating data the group can use to support policy positions and advocate for new engagement models, explained Eastland. The overarching project is called Close the Gap and is looking at disconnections and useful strategies within the role rural communities play in policy decisions.

Easland said Sicamous and these partners are only a few so many organizations continue to advocate to provide better health service in rural B.C..

A resolution to explore team-based care training for mayor and council was passed in August, said Eastland, and since then, self-directed resources through the B.C. Patient Safety and Quality Council have been made available, including podcasts and online learning materials. Funding for team coaching from the Rural Coordination Centre was denied for this year but Eastland said an application next year might suit Sicamous better as they can tie in with the planned Shuswap Healing Centre and decide what should be the district’s focus.

Sicamous did receive around $16,000 for continuing medical education, which has been focused on exploring handheld ultrasound equipment and training and an automated external defibrillator for the centre, along with potential cryotherapy training.

For the healing centre, Interior Health North Okanagan executive director Chris Simms has worked with Eastland and the district to solidify plans involving inclusion in the centre, and Eastland said he understands the time sensitivity of confirming those plans. The deadline for a second round of expression of interest call outs is coming up on Nov. 3 and Eastland hopes to hear back before then.

“It’s so much advocacy for community health centres and what they can look like, a true community with all services under one roof,” said Eastland.

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