Latest Story

News Release – Princeton Health Care Steering Committee

December 11, 2017


November 24, 2017
submitted by Edward Staples

Report on the November meeting of the Princeton Health Care Steering Committee
On Tuesday, November 21, the Princeton Health Care Steering Committee (PHCSC) held its monthly meeting at Princeton General Hospital. The PHCSC was formed in 2013 to provide a mechanism for Interior Health, the Town of Princeton, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, Cascade Clinic, Princeton General Hospital, and community organizations to work together to support stable, sustainable and accessible health care in Princeton.

This month’s meeting was attended by representatives from the Town of Princeton, Area H (RDOS), Cascade Medical practitioners, Princeton General Hospital staff, Interior Health, BC Ambulance Services, Princeton and District Community Services, Princeton Family Services, RCMP, and Support Our Health Care (SOHC). The meeting was chaired by Interior Health administrator, Susan Brown.

Susan Brown welcomed Sandra Lawlor (Area H), Connie Howe (Princeton Community Services), Heather Eriksen (Princeton Family Services), and Corporal Chad Parsons (RCMP) as new members on the Steering Committee.

Mary Beth Rutherford from the Penticton office of the BC Alzheimer’s Society gave a presentation outlining First Link, a referral program designed to help newly diagnosed people with dementia get the help they need as soon as possible. First Link assists physicians and health and community service providers to connect people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and their families with the Alzheimer Society.

Suzanne Moccia, South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice, presented information on the Patient Medical Home, a primary health care model that focuses on team based, patient-centred care. Cascade Medical practitioners, Dr Black, Dr Monro and NP Ter Keurs, heartily endorsed the model and reported that they are working with the Division to implement the PMH model in Princeton.

Cherie Whittaker reported on facility upgrades at Princeton General Hospital. New purchases include the purchase of cardiac monitoring equipment and a new ventilator. The cardiac monitoring equipment connects our hospital with a network allowing consultation in real time between the GP and a cardiac specialist. The ventilator supports respiratory care in the Emergency Department. Whittaker also reported that three new Licensed Practical Nurses have been hired at the hospital.

Over the past year Cascade Medical Clinic has sponsored several family practice residents as part of their rural rotation at UBC Okanagan. Recently, Drs Black and Monro attended an evaluation meeting in Penticton where they contributed to an upgrade of the program curriculum. It was also reported that because of the high quality experience provided by our local physicians, Princeton is now a mandatory location for residents completing their rural rotation.

Clubhouse for addiction, mental health opening in March

November 30, 2017

Princeton Family Centre

The former Princeton Fire Hall, on Veterans’ Way, has had many uses over the years. The town is donating part of the building’s space to the Anchorage Program.

ANDREA DEMEERNov. 30, 2017 9:30 a.m.NEWS
Princeton has been without a drop in centre for nearly two years

A clubhouse to serve people with mental illness and addiction will reopen in downtown Princeton after more than two years.
“I am so happy that this is getting going,” said town councillor Rosemary Doughty, who worked on the committee charged with replacing the clubhouse.
“It’s taken a long time and it’s coming together really well. They [clients] can bring their club together again where they have a place of belonging. The Anchorage users have been important parts of our community for years.”

The Anchorage Program – which served about 25 people – lost its drop in center in January 2015 when the building it occupied was sold.
It will be up and running again in March 2018, according to Kevin Fraser, manager of mental health and addiction services for Interior Health.

The Anchorage will have a new location, as well as a new operations model.
The new Anchorage clubhouse will be founded adjacent to the drop in center’s former location, on Veteran’s Way. It is the former Princeton Fire Hall, and has also been used as a teen drop in center and an office for Princeton Family Services.
That building – part of which is also used by the Princeton Gun Club as a shooting range – is being made available at no cost by the town, said Fraser.
“The municipality has been very kind in their offering,” he said.

Fraser told The Spotlight that responsibility for the clubhouse will be assigned to a third-party vendor or community partner.
A bid for that contract is currently being advertised.
Fraser said it is common for Interior Health to partner with other groups – for example the Canadian Mental Health Association – to run clubhouses like the Anchorage.
“That doesn’t mean that we won’t work closely with the clubhouse. That’s the way we want to work with all our community partners.”

Fraser said he hopes whoever wins the bid for the contract will be able to expand the services currently offered. Some of those services, for example walking clubs and outings, continued after the former clubhouse closed.

The maximum funding allowed for the project is $69,000 a year and the clubhouse will be open four days a week, for a total of 24 hours, he said.

Sue Alton is a local advocate for people with mental health issues and addiction.
She said the closure of the clubhouse nearly two years ago was devastating to its clients.
“The impact was we had all these people floating around with nowhere to go. The program had evolved so that it was really consistent and stable. They had good professionals that were supporting the program…and then I know after that it was really difficult.”
Alton said a clubhouse “is for people who need those services most. It’s a positive thing that we have finally got something concrete.”

According to Fraser Interior Health had to look very closely at the proposed location, because part of that building is used by the local gun club on Thursday nights and some weekends.
“We went through our risk management department and thoroughly reviewed the situation,” he said. “We assessed the potential risks and found none.”

Lyle Thomas, leisure services manager for Princeton, said while the gun range has a shared entrance with the rest of the building it is separated by walls that are eight inches thick and a triple-locked steel door.
No weapons or ammunition are stored at the facility, and the gun club is not permitted to use the building if there is anyone else present.

The shooting range is also occasionally used by RCMP, according to Corporal Chad Parsons.

Panel discussion – BC Health Coalition Conference 2017

November 3, 2017

BCHC Friday 100_preview-Colleen Fuller

From left to right: Marcy Cohen – moderator (health and social policy researcher), Colleen Fuller (health policy analyst,Board of Directors of REACH Community Health Centre in Vancouver), Edward Staples (President of SOHC (Support Our Health Care), member of the BCHC Steering Committee, member of the Princeton Health Care Steeringng Committee, and the South Okanagan Similkameen Community Healthcare Coalition), Dr. Margaret McGregor (Family Physician, Director of the UBC Dep. of Family Practice, Community Geriatrics, a research assciate with the VCHRI’s centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation and the UBC Centre for Health Services and Policy), Anita Shen (student of nursing and a former youth in government care), Kerrie Watt (Youth Mental Health & Substance Use Prevention Educator with Vancouver Coastal Health)

Questions to Ed Staples, President of SOHC, are in Italic
1. Can you describe the role of the community in advocating for and working with local health professionals to address the gaps/challenges in health services in your and other rural communities, and can you explain why and how primary care reform is seen as key in addressing these problems?

To address the first part, the role of the community, quite simply, is to identify what’s needed and to establish a collaborative and cooperative relationship with all community stakeholders to make change happen.

It is critically important for there to be a “community” voice.  Otherwise, the professionals – the doctors, administrators, and bureaucrats – will view the world as the aggregate of their specific, unique patients, and the formal funding and legal structures surrounding them – mostly government and especially provincial government supported and directed.

Without a community voice, those “forgotten” or structurally denied services will continue to be part of the huge “blind spot”, the gaps/challenges that exist in our communities.

Community organizations such as Support Our Health Care provide a more adequate view of need and priority for service, providing they talk directly to the providers and funders using persuasive public processes of research and community consultation.

The second part of this question, the importance of primary care reform, is harder to answer. The myriad healthcare models that exist in rural communities across the province are the result of communities doing the best they can with what they have. Each community healthcare model, no matter what you call it, is born of necessity rather than design. However, if you were to examine the various models, I think you’d find some common determinants:

1. personnel – service delivery is wholly dependent on the healthcare personnel available at any given time – and that can change monthly, weekly, daily
– range of specialties – knowledge of each other’s skill set is critical to the
delivery of a team based, multi-disciplinary primary care model
– expertise, experience, and character
– living location

2. healthcare infrastructure
– location of physical facilities – spread over the community or all under one roof
– size and layout

3. community infrastructure
– size of local health area
– transportation services
– distance and time

4. population health profile
– average life expectancy
– chronic disease prevalence rate
– health behaviour indicators – diet, exercise, alcohol consumption
– perceived health

2. What are some of the ways that the provincial government, health authorities and Divisions of Family Practice could be providing more support for primary care reform initiatives in rural communities across the province?

First, it is important to understand that there’s no single path, no single model that will work for all communities. The model of healthcare that works best for each community is born out of necessity rather than design. The available services determine the model.
Read more »

BC Health Coalition 2017 Conference

October 20, 2017

We’re only two weeks away from the BC Health Coalition 2017 Conference, an exciting two full days of speakers, and workshops. Discussions and topics include seniors care, primary health care, Indigenous health, health organizing, poverty reduction, pharmacare and others. This is a unique opportunity to learn together, strategize and take action to strengthen our public health care system in B.C. Click here to register.

Dates: Friday, October 27th to Saturday, October 28th, 2017
Times: 11 am to 4:30 pm on Friday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm on Saturday
Location: Jewish Community Centre,  950 41st Ave W, Vancouver, BC V5Z 2N7
Cost: $0-$75 sliding scale. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.

The Conference Is An Opportunity To…
• Hear from Jenny Morgan, BC Women’s and Children’s Hospitals, and Elder Roberta Price, First Nations educator, speak about empowering Indigenous women and families in health services and healing.
Read more »

Quiet Moments

September 22, 2017

Version 2

A resident in our long term care facility likes to eat his lunch in the hallway of the hospital where he can look at a mural. Edward Staples, President of SOHC, made the ceramic tile mural and donated it to the hospital. The mural, entitled Emerge, depicts an iconic and very familiar place in Princeton.

Petition in support of fair taxes for our docs

September 13, 2017

Proposed changes to federal corporate income tax laws have the potential to destabilize our already fragile health care service.

Dan Albas, our Member of Parliament (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola), is sponsoring a petition initiated by Dr. Geoffrey Sanz of Kelowna. The following is from an email to SOHC from MP Albas: “I too am very concerned. I have been speaking to MDs and small business owners from across our riding and the country. Obviously any new legislation will be hotly contested by me in Parliament but many people want to help their physician or make their point directly to the Government.”

Please sign the petition in support of our local doctors.

Click here to sign petition


August 24, 2017

Monthly Archives: July 2017
By Art Martens

JULY 30, 2017

Tim Robbins - community Paramedicine

Tim Roberts, Community Paramedic

“I know the name of every person represented by a white cross along the highway,” Tim Roberts told Linda and me last week. As a paramedic, he has been called to the scene of numerous tragic accidents in the Similkameen Valley. When he arrived at our home, he was wearing a uniform representing Community Paramedicine, a new service being offered to local citizens.

Tim and I came to know each other when we worked together in a program for emotionally disturbed youths at the One Way Adventure Foundation in Hedley. After that our paths intersected only occasionally. I was interested in hearing how life circumstances had prepared him for his current challenging role.
Read more »


To become a member of SOHC, please
email the secretary.
Annual membership is $2.

SOHC Discussion Paper

Developing an Improved and Sustainable Health Care Model for Princeton, B.C
Support Our Health Care has released a discussion paper in order to get feedback from the community, politicians and professionals about the state of local healthcare and what the long term solutions should be.
Download PDF Here