RCCbc recognizes SOHC

SOHC at Rural Locum Conference - Nanaimo
SOHC Secretary Nienke Klaver and President Ed Staples meeting a delegate at the Rural Locum Conference held in Nanaimo on February 25. (photo by Sharon Mah, RCCbc)

The following article appeared in the March 2017 issue of BC Rural Update, the online news letter of the Rural Coordination Centre of BC:

“In 2012, the community of Princeton was in crisis. There was only one physician on-call for the community of nearly 3,000 people, the ER was closed for four nights a week, and there was a shortage of nurses, medical office assistants, and laboratory staff. Through the combined efforts of the Support Our Health Care (SOHC) group, the Cascade Medical Centre, the Princeton General Hospital, and allied health care workers, the community was able to recruit and retain additional health care staff and work with several stakeholders to restore existing services, and even introduce new specialist clinics to the community.

Princeton locals Ed Staples and Nienke Klaver, are two of the founding members of SOHC who have worked tirelessly to advocate, coordinate network, and support the community’s health care professionals. In a conversation with RCCbc last year, Nienke mentioned tongue-in-cheek that SOHC has become a retirement project for her and Ed! We salute the efforts of SOHC in enabling the transformation of Princeton from a community in crisis to one that is now stable, and look forward to seeing what innovative programs the community will put forth over the next few years.”

Click the following link for more RCCbc information:
RCCbc online newsletter

The Twisted Business of Donating Plasma

Since 2008, plasma pharmaceuticals have leapt from $4 billion to a more than $11 billion annual market. Donors desperate for the cash incentive from high-frequency “plassing” may be putting their health, and the public’s, at risk.

I needed the cash.
That was how I found myself laying in a plasma “donation” room filled with about 40 couches, each equipped with a blood pressure cuff and a centrifuge. A white-coated attendant (workers aren’t required to have medical or nursing degrees) pricked my arm. He separated my plasma from my whole blood into a large bottle, and returned my protein-depleted blood, which flowed back into my arm to rebuild my nutrient supply.

“My house is so noisy with four kids so I come here for my relaxation,” said a middle-aged, haggard-looking woman on the next couch, the plasmapheresis machine at her side whirring. A clinician instructed us both to pump and relax our fists, like cows milking our own udders.
Before leaving I received a calendar that mapped out my pay, if I maintained a twice-weekly schedule for subsequent donations. Even a $10 bonus on my next visit!

How did I get here? My rent was due. I had insufficient funds in the bank. I was 48-years-old, a journalist running short on cash from writing assignments and odd jobs. That was when I saw an ad offering $50 per plasma donation: blood money, or more specifically, payment for my time and any small pain involved in the process of having protein-rich plasma extracted from the blood. Regulars call it “plassing.” Continue reading

Alberta passes legislation banning payment for blood donation

Alberta has joined the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in banning payment for the collection of blood or plasma from donors.

Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman commented, “Donating blood should not be viewed as a business venture, but as a public resource that saves lives every day.”

The legislation protects Alberta’s voluntary blood donation system, banning payment to donors and advertising for paid donations.

SOHC urges the BC government to join Alberta, Ontario and Quebec and pass similar legislation. (click on the following link to read SOHC’s position paper on the subject of paying for plasma)
Do Blood and Money Mix – SOHC position paper

Report on Princeton’s Specialist Care

To read about specialists visiting Princeton please click the link below.

Princeton Access to SPs Phase 1 Report Sept.2015
shared care

The aim of the Princeton Access to Specialist Care project was to improve and sustain access to specialist care in the Princeton area, and to support Princeton family physicians.

Patients from Princeton with significant health concerns often need to travel to Penticton or Kelowna for investigations and specialist appointments.

Barriers to travel prevent about 30% of Princeton area patients from receiving specialist care, creating an added burden on rural family doctors. Initiated in the fall of 2013, the intention of the project is to improve health outcomes and quality of life of Princeton patients, and to increase the likelihood of retaining Princeton family physicians.

• Increase number and variety of specialist clinics in Princeton
• Improve processes, knowledge transfer, and relationships between specialists, family physicians, other healthcare providers and patients
Improve physician, healthcare provider and patient experience

An interdisciplinary project team, including representatives from Princeton family physicians, Penticton specialists, their MOAs, Princeton General Hospital (PGH) management and staff, Community Integrated Health Services administration, and Shared Care project staff set out to:
• Develop, implement and test outreach clinic formats to provide appropriate specialist care in Princeton
• Provide Princeton physicians with customized education and relationship-building opportunities through on-site CMEs (Continuing Medical Education) with visiting specialists
• Engage feedback from physicians, healthcare providers and patients about their experience with the new approaches to care


In the Princeton Health Care Action Framework (July, 2013), the development of a “more welcoming and healing space for patients in the health care buildings” was identified as an important component.

An aesthetic improvement working group called ‘Art for Health’  was formed, comprising Nienke Klaver, Merrilyn Huycke, Susan Delatour, and Ed Staples.

There is extensive evidence supporting the benefits of enhancing health care facilities for patients:

In a 2002 study completed by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in the UK, they concluded that “placing original artworks within the healthcare environment can:

  • reduce levels of anxiety, stress and depression
  • reduce patientsʼ length of stay in the hospital
  • reduce the use of some medications
  • improve communication between patients and healthcare professionals”

On March 13 Merrilyn Huycke’s mural was installed in the lobby of the hospital. This is the fourth project of the ‘Art for Health’ committee. The first 3 being: a Japanese garden at the entrance of the hospital, a Children’s Corner at Cascade Medical Clinic, and several new framed posters in the hallways. Staples is currently fashioning a ceramic tile mural for the nurses station.

While none of the contributing artists are paid for their creations, the Princeton Arts Council is reimbursing the artists for most materials.

Blood and Politics

On March 7, 2017, the Similkameen Spotlight newspaper published an opinion piece by Tom Fletcher on Canada’s blood system (click on the link below to read the full article).

Fake news and the blood system

The following  is SOHC’s response that appeared in the March 15, 2017 issue of the Spotlight:

We would like to comment on the article in the March 8, 2017 issue of The Similkameen Spotlight – BC VIEWS: Fake news and the blood system written by Mr. Tom Fletcher.

Parts of the article express political views, including the nature of the BC Health Coalition. Mr. Fletcher has a right to his opinions, which he has expressed clearly. He is correct that the BCHC has membership from union-related organizations – 21 of them. What he fails to mention is that there are 30 other member organizations comprising groups such as pensioners, community organizations and societies (including our own). The implication that union membership in the BCHC prevents it from acting in the best interests of British Columbians is unfounded and biased.

We support Mr. Fletcher’s position that information should be accurate. We agree with him that there is no reason at this time to view commercially produced blood products, regardless of origin, as being unsafe. The Canadian “blood scandal” of the 1980s and the subsequent Krever commission findings secured a world-wide convulsive attention to blood processing of all types.

What Mr. Fletcher’s article does not address is the issue of public accountability for ongoing safety of the blood system as a whole and blood products specifically.
The current and future safety of the blood and blood products supply should not be taken for granted.
Continue reading

Report on Pain Management Seminar – Princeton, BC

pdf Report on Princeton Pain Management Seminar
At the beginning of the seminar the audience was asked to complete the following information:

1. Why did you come to this pain management seminar?

2. What are you hoping to take away from this evening? Pain Management Questionnaire

At the end of the evening the participants were asked to fill in the following evaluation questions:

1. Did you find this seminar helpful? (circle one)

2. How could future pain management seminars be improved?

3. What is missing in our community? What suggestions do you have to improve services for people living with pain?

Select Standing Committee on Health 2017 Report

Dr. Denise McLeod of Prince George was one of many British Columbians who gave presentations to the province’s Select Standing Committee on Health (Citizen photo by Brent Braaten July 5 2016)

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This past week, the BC Select Standing Committee on Health released their 2017 Report entitled Looking Forward: Improving Rural Health Care, Primary Care, and Addiction Recovery Programs.

Edward Staples, SOHC President, made a presentation to the Committee in July, 2016, addressing the following three areas of inquiry:

  • How can we improve health and health care services in rural British Columbia? In particular, what long-term solutions can address the challenges of recruitment and retention of health care professionals in rural British Columbia?
  • ï‚· How can we create a cost-effective system of primary and community care built around interdisciplinary teams?
  • ï‚· How can we enhance the effectiveness of addiction recovery programs?

Continue reading

Review of Family Medicine within Rural and Remote Canada

The following excerpts are from the 2016 Review of Family Medicine Within Rural and Remote Canada: Education, Practice, and Policy commissioned by The College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Taskforce on Advancing Rural Family Medicine, and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada:

“Governments have a role to assist rural communities and physicians in acquiring the
knowledge, competencies, skills, and tools needed to improve access to health care services. Medical schools have an important social responsibility to ensure that the rural education curricula align with population health needs, including a sufficient family physician workforce. Efforts should be taken to ensure that rural communities are not left behind. It will also be important to remain vigilant in addressing recruitment and retention issues of physicians pursuing practice in rural settings, while at the same time taking steps to better prepare them to provide quality health care in rural regions.”

“The positive trends that have been emerging in advancing the numbers of family medicine graduates practising in rural Canada are promising but more can be done. There should be commitment and social accountability by all stakeholders to look for ways to enhance the education of family physicians in their competence to practise in rural communities. Continue reading