Responses on Health Matters from Candidates for Princeton Municipal Office

October 5, 2018

Responses on Health Matters From Candidates for Princeton Municipal Office:  Warm appreciation to all.

The Responses below are printed with the content as received. No editing has been done. They are listed in alphabetical order under Candidate name.  The numbers correspond to the following questions:

  1. If you become mayor/councillor, where would you place the health care issue on your list of priorities for Princeton?
  2. In your opinion, what are the main health care issues for Princeton?
  3. What suggestions can you offer to improve our community’s health care model?
  4. Two of the social determinants of health are poverty and lack of housing. What is your position on this issue? Would you be in favour of establishing low income housing in Princeton?
  5. What is your view on the Ministry of Health initiative to establish Primary Care Networks (PCN) as a way to improve access to primary care in BC? What are your thoughts on the Community Health Centre and Patient Medical Home models and their role in the PCN initiative?

Candidates for Mayor

Frank Armitage:

1. Health Care is, and must remain a top priority for our Town Council

2. Ensuring we have the allotted number of Doctors  (6) in our  Community

3. Work with Interior Health and our Doctors (as we do) to insure a positive progressive relationship

4. Low Income Housing is managed by our Community Services Group and I am working with Executive Director Connie Howe for more Low Income Housing Units

5. These are good plans that are now being implemented in the Rural Communities. The Ministry of Health and Interior Health are working with the Doctors on these plans to increase the levels of Service available

Leona Guerster:

I believe Council should maintain an open and respectful dialogue with the Province in regards to Health Care. Healthcare is a priority. I would love to see our Hospital become more than just Primary Care, I lived here at the time when babies were delivered and operations including elective surgeries were performed. Municipalities, unfortunately, are not the governing or decision making bodies when it pertains to Healthcare.

Spencer Coyne:

1. Health care is high on my priority list. I would maintain the Town’s commitment to the Steering Committee, stay dedicated to maintaining our doctor numbers and start looking at ways to increase mental health and drug & alcohol resources for our community.

2.

1. Shortage of mental health workers

2. The opioid and drug problem in town

3. Maintaining service levels

3. There are two answers to this question. First I think communities need more direct input into what is needed in a local health care model. Secondly, I think we need to do more to increase and improve access to metal health. We also need more drug abuse assistance. We need outreach, counseling and maybe even a way to detox our residents at home and have more spots in a treatment centre once they are out of detox.

4.  I have talked to the housing manager for Princeton’s low income housing we have a waiting list for low income senior and family living units. I believe we need to lobby Victoria to build more units or find an alternative way to have more low income units built in Princeton. There is an old saying that “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” if we consider this when we look at the community when we have vulnerable members of our community that cannot access basic necessities like housing we must ask ourselves how strong is our community.

Tackling poverty is a complex issue and is not something that you jump into without understanding it. In order for a true poverty strategy to be successful you must have mental health supports in place, you must have affordable housing in place and you must have support mechanisms to make sure that people do not fall through the cracks. We need to do more to support the local food bank and Princeton Crisis these two organizations are on the front lines along with social workers, school teachers and mental health workers we need to look at a collaborative approach to dealing with the overall issue of poverty.

5.  I am optimistic about the concept of Primary Care Networks. If done right we could see more input from local communities and we could see a more holistic approach to the way health care is provided to British Columbians. These networks seem to be more about the bigger picture rather than just a reactionary health care model.  When it comes to Community Health Centre or Patient Medical Home models both have much merit to them. I hope that when the Province makes its decision on which model to accept that it takes the best of both and finds a truly made in BC solution that will work both in Rural and Urban BC.

Candidates for Councillor

Bruce Barth:

1. Health care is top of my list. Our community needs some healthy growth to add into our financial base which will allow upgrade and repairs of our aging infrastructure and recreation facilities. Without adequate health care what do we have to attract new comers to our town.

2. Obtaining a personal physician, and being able to get timely appointments. also being able to see a specialist without leaving our community

3. If we grow our community and offer recreational options year round we would attract health care professionals

4. Most defiantly. I know some single moms or lower income familiethat need assistance. Especially when it comes to children they need to have access to things like medical and dental and grow up healthy.

5. I would have to spend a little time doing some research to give a 100% answer but from my understanding of PCN it will allow everyone to have access to health care. This will allow DRs to deliver quicker services, working with teams will help patients to get proper care and reduce the risk of DRs burnout. I think this system sounds like it would be very beneficial to our community.

Neal Dangerfield:

1. I don’t tend to prioritise issues, as a lot of them are interwoven, such as with health care. For the health and wellness of all the people of Princeton, the pool would be a great advantage. Also allowing people to walk or bike in safe areas, such as keeping the KVR through town non-motorized helps. Low income housing and housing in general, needs to be increased, which would also benefit peoples health. All these and more help this health care and other aspects of life in Princeton, so I don’t think there’s a need to prioritise one over the other.

2. As with many other towns and cities, drugs seem to be a big issue from opioids to fentanyl. Mental health also seems to be an issue as for quite a while there has been no help in this area in town. Hopefully with the opening of Kn ala House things in this area will improve. The ever increasing age of our substantial senior population and the increasing number of retirees moving into the area, may put an increase on our local health care system as time goes by.

3. I am no expert and have certainly not done enough research to be able to answer this question. I would have to listen to what others with more expertise and knowledge have to say on this.

4. Yes I agree that poverty and lack of housing can have an adverse effect on health. And while the money needed to tackle these issues can be high, it is usually made back in the savings made in less use of the health care system.

I would be in favour of increasing the number of low income housing in Princeton.

5. In theory the PCN looks a good model to improve primary care, with team based care from a team of specialists with better access to data and equipment. In practice its looks like the Community Health Centres and PMH’s will have to commit 100% for the PCN to work well. And there is the question of whether a patient will be happy working with a team rather than a single family doctor.

Gino Del-Ciotto

1. Absolutely! At the age of 41 I received a pacemaker implant to control my heartrate due to a condition known as bradycardia, I may not be here today if not for this lifesaving implant performed free of charge by our wonderful healthcare system. Improving healthcare in Princeton comes near the top of my priority list especially considering our aging population demographics.

2. 3 issues come to mind immediately, 1st would be the state of mental health resources in Princeton. According to Canada Census Data we have an above average number of citizens within our municipality requiring these services. A full time Psychologist as well as a full-time crisis counsellor with on call capabilities would go a long way towards helping those in our community whom need the most help. 2nd I firmly believe we require a 2nd doctor’s office located in the lower area of town. Not everyone is aware or willing to take public transportation including elderly citizens whom may have issues with the English language and mobility disabled persons. The opportunity to choose your clinic also provides benefits. 3rd I would like to see a return of minor surgery and birthing at the Princeton Hospital. Not only is the long journey dangerous for mothers to be whom are in labor but the ability for people to be close to home and possibly even go home the day of surgery for minor work would take pressure off of the provincial health system and create a far more attractive place to live with better hospital facilities available.

3. Many things have been done in recent years to make improvements, as I stated in the previous question the addition of full-time mental health professionals and crisis councillors is something that is top of my list on this subject. The addition of a 2nd doctors clinic near town center and a push for the province to restore Princeton hospitals minor surgery and birthing room services.

4. My original announcement and campaign platform layout included a firm commitment to work towards bylaw changes to ease restrictions on zoning for land owners wishing to build low income housing in several sectors. Including the possibility of creating small lots with the new Tiny Homes we have heard so much about as of late offing those on lower incomes the very real prospect of owning real property within their budgets. I also support lobbying the provincial levels of government to invest in more low-income housing such as the complex located off of Tulameen Ave. I have suggested numerous times the land set aside for the pool on the old Overwaitea site would far better serve our community as a low income and senior housing complex located central to all amenities. There are better suited sites for such a large pool complex, our town center should be made elderly and disabled friendly, including necessary and needed sidewalk and signal improvements.

5. After looking over PCNs I have to say it looks like a good idea, anything that improves the communication networks between healthcare providers and expedites services and treatments for patients is a welcome addition to our healthcare services. I wish I had a greater understanding of the system and should \I be elected to council I will be looking into this at much greater depth. My thoughts on CHC and PMH models and their role in the PCN initiative require more study. My apologies but I do not wish to venture too deep an opinion without being fully informed on the subject.

George Elliott:

1. In the Top 2. Closely following Infrastructure.

2. Affordable housing for seniors not quite at the point of extended care or assisted care living.

3. I’m not completely up-to-date on all the details but I do know that major improvements have been made thanks to the work of SOHC. I think I’ll answer this just by saying I would continue to support the efforts of the SOHC.

4. I believe I have already answered this. Yes, I would. It’s a serious problem in more that just Princeton and has to be addressed quickly.

5. To the best of my knowledge, the PCN has been a tremendous tool for rural BC residents. What I think we need to do is to quit considering ourselves as ‘rural BC’ and start building Princeton and Area H to be another central hub for services to treat residents in the outlying communities that surround Princeton. I think if we keep considering ourselves as ‘rural BC’ we forget that when working together, we can turn Princeton and area into something much greater. This would include better health care facilities, services and options. How awesome would it be if Princeton became to central location of services to other communities?

Nick Goreas:

1. Health Care would be one of my top priorities as I believe that this is an area that never stops evolving, there are ever-growing needs that were either not identified in the past or just made more aware recently.

2. Health care issues are

a) The need for more resident general practitioners

b) More specialized doctors in mental health.

c) Local Physiotherapy doctors and facilities.

d) Doctors with a heavier background in natural medicines.

3.a) I would start with healthy community living as there is a need for both young and old to have access to activities to assist in their individual health needs.

b) Attracting and retaining doctors locally along side with more specialized fields of specialties

c) That there is always access to primary health care for all citizens on their specific needs.

4. a) I have always been a proponent of a healthy house provides a healthy family, unfortunately in Princeton lack of available and affordable housing is an issue for both young families and older couples. I am in full favor of working towards low income housing for those in need in Princeton.

5. A community health and wellness center would be a huge asset for both seniors and youth to participate in programs catered to their needs, as of currently any specific ailment requires out of town services and in many cases require more than once a week attention.

Barb Gould:

I am happy to answer the questions as best as I can.  I am not a medical professional but I do use the services and I am aware of the importance of a fully functioning hospital in our community due to the proximity to a major highway.

1. If I became Councillor I would like to keep heath care as one of the top priorities for the Town.  First we would need to get our bearings and being that I do not have previous experience on Princeton Council, I would need to get the crash course on areas of importance. We will need to balance a budget and determine what the implications of all the needs are on our taxation. The efforts made by all the involved parties have helped to stem the crisis state but we need to keep moving forward and not become complacent.  My main strength is if I don’t know the answer right that moment, I will do all I can to find it.

2. As a citizen I am not entirely sure as to what Interior Health and their employees feel are the main concerns of our hospital. I think keeping our hospital open, attracting doctors, nurses and specialized services to work here is most important. More local support for Mental Health and Addiction is needed as well. The opiod crisis is also a concern.

3. Keep doing all the positive work that has been done to this point! I think continuing to build on the progress made and to keep pushing for our share in Princeton. Sometimes a regional model forgets about the members outside the core.  Since health care funding trickles down from the Provincial level, it’s important to keep those positive relationships working and the dialogue going. We can’t let them forget about us. If Princeton is in a sustainable state then that is great! Keep asking for more. Keep asking for that specialized unit to be mobile, keep asking for more Psychiatric Nurses, find ways to attract Nurses and Lab Technicians.

4. We already have some low income housing in Princeton. I am in favour of establishing more low income housing in Princeton. How it gets established or what model used is yet to be determined. More units like Aspen Court and Silvercrest Housing would be beneficial.

5. I do not know enough about this topic to address it.

Kim Maynard:

1. When I was first elected 7 years ago, healthcare was my top priority and it still is. Without sufficient doctors and a working hospital, you don’t really have a properly functioning community.

2. We need a full compliment of Doctors and nurse practitioners, nurses RN’s and LPN’s,  a fully functioning lab and hospital in general, as well as mental health and addiction, seniors advocates and physio therapy.

3. Our healthcare steering committee (I am co-chair) MUST listen to the concerns of our Doctors and work hard to help resolve them. This allows Doctors to practice medicine and not be so bogged down with other restrictive issues. A good working relationship with Interior Health is extremely important.

4. With the recent and present growth of our community, I believe housing is definately becoming a problem. At the Union of BC Municipalities Conference last month we met with Minister of Housing Selina Robinson to discuss this very issue. The Province will be assisting us in conducting a housing needs assessment to assist with our community planning, this will now be done every 5 years. This is a great tool and a necessary one in working towards affordable housing goals.

The province is investing 1.9 billion over the next 10 years towards affordable rentals, for people with low to moderate incomes. I support this fully and will do everything I can to take full advantage of this housing plan for our community.

5. From what I understand, the Ministry of Health initiative to establish Primary care networks as a way to improve access to primary care is a good one. I very much like the comprehensive team based approach that focuses more on “care in the community,” and works more to being centered on the patients needs, to me it seems more real and compassionate.

I like the Community Health Center idea because of the ability of the community to more understand its own needs more than any other body. It also seems the CHC could be quite focused on community based education, such as healthy living, diet and mental health to name a few.

Patient Medical Home model should help to provide more continuity like in the day when patients had a family Doctor that had known them and their health issues for years.

Honestly, for the most part, it doesn’t really matter what my views are. I am on the steering committee to support our Doctors, healthcare staff and our residents.

I trust our Doctors know what they need to provide excellence in healthcare.

Randy McLean

1. My experience in my years of serving as councillor and mayor has been that health care has consistently been the highest priority concern on the minds of the people I represented and as a result it would remain as my highest priority

2. The availability of doctors would be at the top of the list, the seemingly constant downgrading of Princeton’s health facilities is another and finally a subject close to my heart, when my council offered to clear the land and pave an area directly adjacent to the hospital building for a helicopter landing pad we were turned away.

3. Doctor recruitment, helicopter access next to the hospital, working towards a dementia unit in our hospital

4. I must admit that even though I have spent 17 years on council I am not familiar with municipalities supplying housing, the acquisition of property for that housing I could envision but the provision of solutions to social problems has in my experience come from the federal and provincial government not the taxpayers of our municipality. That being said I would be willing to explore what other municipalities are doing

5.  I am sorry, I am not familiar with the government primary care initiative or the role that will be played by the community health Center or patient medical home models.

Chris Obey:

Health Care is a very important issue, my Spouse works as a Care Aid. If we were to big a pool down town, I think it would be in our best interest to partner up with a developer with a senior complex above. The old PLP building on that site would be a great location for a walk in clinic. The Town currently wants to tear it down for the new pool which I find ludicrous. The pool has to be redesigned for our size of Town and a senior complex above would help offset the cost of the pool. Having a walk in clinic in Town would be great for the elderly and people with out a drivers licence.

Mike Stafford 

1. I believe that health care should be a top priority for all elected officials, whether on the local, provincial, or federal level.

2. The main issue for health care in Princeton is the lack of a sufficient number of physicians in order for everyone to be able to have a family doctor. This in turn creates other issues, such as long wait times to see a physician, the issue of being unable to schedule an appointment to see a physician within a reasonable time, as well as creating a situation where the doctors and nurses find themselves overloaded and overworked.

3. The greatest benefit to health care in Princeton would be to have more health care practitioners (both nurses and doctors) come to Princeton. This would allow more people to have a family physician, reduce wait times to see a doctor, and perhaps even allow doctors to do weekly rounds, visiting those patients who have difficulty in getting to a doctor’s office in their own home.

4. Housing shortage, whether low income or not, is another problem for Princeton. I believe that instead of spending great sums of money on a recreation complex, it would be better spent on low income housing – especially for seniors, a great many of whom are definitely living below the poverty level. A great location for a multi-story low income housing project would be the proposed location of the recreation complex. The main floor could be seniors only, with the upper floor(s) for low income families and individuals of working age.

5. As to the establishment of Primary Care Networks (PCNs). I believe it may help some issues, as it has to a certain extent in Alberta. Like I wrote above, I believe the provincial government should focus more on making sure more doctors and nurses come to practice in BC, with the addition of 200 new doctors and 200 new nurses province wide being a good start. Unfortunately there are about three quarters of a million people in BC without a family practitioner, and 400 new people is just a drop in the bucket. With PCNs the government would need to make sure to provide oversight and control over standards to make sure everyone gets comparable care, as well as to make sure any money spent by the PCNs is spent in the right areas. Do I believe this will solve all our problems? No, but I hope to be proved wrong.

Tyler Willis

1. I place our health care very high on my list of priorities as I hope all other candidates will.

2. These are a few issues I believe we have in town.

 – Shortage of doctors. Patients wait far to long to get an appointment or can’t even get one.

 – Sustain and improve our medical facilities.

 – Our drug problem needs to be addressed. Counselling, medical treatment, or rehabilitation might be needed.

3. My first goal in improving our community health care would be to recruit more doctors.

4. I am 100% for establishing low income housing. We would have to lobby upper level government and I would work hard at doing this.

5. I’m sorry I would have to study and understand the Primary Care Network better to give an educated response to this question.

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Developing an Improved and Sustainable Health Care Model for Princeton, B.C
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