To: Sharon Mah, Rural Coordination Centre of BC
From: Edward Staples, President, Support Our Health Care (SOHC) Society of Princeton
Re: Nomination for an Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine in the Resilient Community category
The Support Our Health Care (SOHC) Society of Princeton would like to nominate the healthcare team at Cascade Medical Centre and Princeton General Hospital for a 2016 Award of Excellence in Rural Medicine in the Resilient Community category.
As a direct result of a shortage of family physicians and healthcare professionals, Princeton and District has recently gone through a serious healthcare crisis. It reached a critical stage in April 2012, when we had only one doctor providing on-call service and our emergency department was closed four nights a week. Exacerbating the crisis was a critical shortage of nurses, medical office assistants, and laboratory staff.
At the peak of the crisis in January 2013, SOHC held a Health Care Community Consultation in response to community concerns over the shortage of health care professionals and the resulting erosion of services. This research based consultation was facilitated by Dr. Barbara Pesut, Associate Professor at the UBCO School of Nursing and Canada Research Chair in Health, Ethics and Diversity.
The results of the Consultation were summarized and published in a report that was released to the public. In response, the health care practitioners began working collaboratively with Interior Health, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, the Town of Princeton, and local community groups to address the challenges and concerns identified in the report. This led to the formation of the Princeton Health Care Steering Committee in July 2013.
Over the course of the next several months, we were fortunate to have three doctors join the one remaining doctor at Cascade Medical and for a short time our community was enjoying a period of relative stability. However, this was not to last. Within the next few months one of the doctors left to be with his wife and family and to set up a practice in the lower mainland. And within a year it was determined that another doctor would be leaving upon completion of her two year certification requirement. Realizing the untenable situation, the two remaining GPs, Dr. Black and Dr. Monro, began working on recruitment. Their approach was to portray our community’s health care system as a positive, stable model staffed with young, energetic professionals working collaboratively to serve the community. The practitioners worked with SOHC to develop materials that could be used in their recruitment efforts. They also worked closely with Interior Health to take advantage of available recruitment programs.
Until permanent practitioners were recruited, Cascade Medical Group (CMG) needed to rely on locums to fill our community’s health care needs. Initially, there was some difficulty in attracting locums. In response, one of the physicians suggested a campaign to attract locums. The Love a Locum campaign was started, aimed at making locums feel welcome when they came to Princeton. SOHC organized a community-wide appeal, resulting in a large number of donations that included Save On Foods welcome baskets presented by our Mayor, home canned goods, home cooked meals, tickets to our local hockey team’s home games, and rounds of golf at the Princeton Golf Club. In addition, CMG requested accommodation support from Interior Health, resulting in provision of a furnished apartment close to the hospital and clinic. This program has now been in operation for over a year and has contributed to the successful recruitment and retention of locums.
Achievements and Successes
Over the past three years, the Cascade Medical Group has provided outstanding leadership and guidance in the formation and implementation of the Princeton Health Care Steering Committee Action Plan, successfully addressing many of the health care challenges that our community has faced. Central to this success has been the willingness of the entire team to work collaboratively to develop programs and initiatives aimed at providing sustainable solutions.
Today, as a result of collaborative recruitment efforts involving Cascade Medical Group, Support Our Health Care, and Interior Health we now have four full time general practitioners, two nurse practitioners (sharing one FTE), a full complement of nursing and laboratory staff, and a long list of available locums. This has contributed Read more »