B.C. should allow physician assistants

June 7, 2018

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Times Colonist

MAY 27, 2018 12:05 AM

The B.C. government should be applauded for launching a renewed approach to primary care. Patients in B.C. deserve faster and improved access to primary care, which is a key pillar in any successful health system. A focus on team-based care will be critical to this success.

There simply aren’t enough providers to care for everyone in B.C., especially those in remote communities. Recruiting more family doctors and hiring more nurse practitioners will most certainly help.

What was not included in this important announcement was the introduction of physician assistants into B.C. PAs work independently under the supervision of a physician and are able to diagnose, develop treatment plans and work closely with patients throughout their care.

PAs practice in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick and in our Canadian Armed Forces. They are also critical members of the health-care team in the U.K., the Netherlands, the U.S. and elsewhere.

They’re used in all of these jurisdictions because evidence proves that PAs reduce wait times, improve care and save money. It’s time for B.C. to introduce PAs so that patients and families can benefit from their skills as part of the health care team.

Trevor Stone


Canadian Association of Physician Assistants

How Ontario’s next government could relieve overcrowded hospitals

June 3, 2018

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By THERESA BOYLE Health Reporter

Sun., June 3, 2018

The number of patients who occupied hospital beds even though they no longer required hospital care hit a record level in Ontario this past winter, the Star has learned.

As a result, emergency room wait times also hit an all-time high.

Women’s College Hospital is performing knee replacement surgery as an ambulatory procedure, in which patients are sent home the same day. (LUCAS OLENIUK / TORONTO STAR)

Women’s College Hospital is performing knee replacement surgery as an ambulatory procedure, in which patients are sent home the same day. (LUCAS OLENIUK / TORONTO STAR)

Almost 5,000 patients, most of them frail and elderly, were stuck in hospital beds because long-term-care homes were full or because it was unsafe for them to return home without more support, according to newly audited data from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and the province’s Health Ministry.

This caused a bottleneck for patients admitted to hospitals through emergency departments. The 90th-percentile wait time for transfer to an in-patient bed was 40.9 hours, meaning 90 per cent of patients waited less than that time before being admitted.

It’s not surprising then that “hallway medicine” has become a major theme in the June 7 provincial election. There has been a lot of talk on the campaign trail about hospitals housing patients in “unconventional spaces” such as bathrooms and storage rooms. Health care always ranks as a top concern among voters, but rarely gets this kind of attention. Read more »

Cities & States Sue Big Pharma, Targeting the Firms Who Profited from Peddling Addictive Opioids

June 3, 2018


New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced earlier this year that the city would sue manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids to account for their part in the city’s ongoing deadly opioid epidemic. Firms named in the suit include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and McKesson Corporation. The Guardian reports that more than 60 cities are suing Big Pharma over opioids. An explosive New York Times report has revealed that manufacturers of the drug OxyContin knew it was highly addictive as early as 1996, the first year after the drug hit the market. 

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO: This is a man-made crisis if ever there was one, fueled by corporate greed, fueled by the actions of big pharmaceutical companies that hooked millions of Americans on opioids to begin with. And some of them still are addicted to prescription drugs, and others have migrated to heroin. But we know where it began for so many people. And, bluntly, it was so a very few people could profit, and, obviously, the horrible actions of criminals who sell drugs and profit in death, as well. That combination has led to where we are today. We need to remember that those origins at the root of this problem means it’s a problem that can be defeated. We can fight back against the big pharmaceutical companies. We can fight back against the criminals who peddle drugs. We can change in so many ways, including changing the entire culture around this issue, so we can help people.

To read the full article, click on 


BC Health Coalition applauds the new team-based primary health care strategy

May 28, 2018

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May 24, 2018

Team-based strategy will ensure faster and more appropriate care

For immediate release

Vancouver, BC – Unceded Coast Salish Territories 

The BC government announced today a major investment in the new primary health care strategy to improve access for British Columbians. Team-based care is central to the new primary health care strategy. This announcement indicates a change of approach and a system-wide transformation of primary care.

Primary health care is a major priority for BCHC members. Over the past few months, the BC Health Coalition has been actively working with Ministry of Health on primary health care. The BCHC has been a strong advocate for community and patient participation in health care development.

“Primary health care is not one size fits all. People need to be able to access the type of health care worker that can best address their needs–this might be a physiotherapist, a social worker, a pharmacist, or a doctor,” says Edith MacHattie, BC Health Coalition co-chair. “Providing team-based care will better meet the needs of British Columbians.”

As part of the new strategy, the BC government is implementing primary care networks, urgent care centres and community health centres. Read more »

China caring for our seniors

May 26, 2018

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Colin Dacre – May 26, 2018 / 5:00 am | Story: 227232

Photo: Retirement Concepts

Local politicians are sounding the alarm about the level of care being provided to seniors at a care home in Summerland now owned by the Chinese government.

The Summerland Seniors Village is one of 21 B.C. facilities owned by Retirement Concepts, a company purchased by China’s Anbang Insurance for $1B last year. In February, the Chinese government seized control of the company and jailed its CEO for fraud.

Central Okanagan MP Dan Albas says he’s heard from family members of residents at the Summerland Seniors Village that care has degraded since the takeover.

He said he’s been told of instances where the facility has been staffed so short, a single nurse is supervising 20 residents overnight.

“That’s alarming. If there was an emergency of any sort, a fire or whatnot, lives are at risk,” he said.

In addition to independent and assisted living, the facility provides complex care to residents with severe dementia.

Albas is calling on the federal government to open a dialogue with the Chinese government about the issue, “it’s not up to the province of B.C. to negotiate with China’s state government.”

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton said he’s heard the same complaints about the Summerland Seniors Village being understaffed recently. However, he said other factors are also at play.

He pointed to a large wage disparity for staff between privately run care homes and the union-staffed facilities managed by Interior Health. With an existing shortage of care aides in the province, most new graduates are opting to work for IH for more money and benefits.

“The government requires 3.34 hours per individual in these homes, and it is my understanding the residents are not getting that because of the inability to find staff to provide that,” Ashton said.

“It’s not being contained to just this one centre, but this centre is feeling a substantial pinch on it, that in my opinion and other people’s opinions, residents are being put at risk due to the amount of help that is available at certain times during the day,” he continued.

Ashton is calling on Interior Health to enforce staffing regulations in care homes and stop sending patients to facilities that are documented to be understaffed.

He raised the issue with Health Minister Adrian Dix in the Legislature earlier this month, who called the Chinese takeover of Retirement Concepts a “very significant situation.”

“They have a responsibility to provide adequate care. We’ve been very clear with them. We’re meeting with the representatives of the new owners, who are effectively the government of China, in the coming weeks,” Dix said.

“Our message is that care standards have to be maintained, that we don’t expect any deviation from the commitments made to us and that we’re reviewing every aspect of this to make sure that the seniors who live in those care homes are protected,” he continued.

The federal government’s approval of the sale of Retirement Concepts to Anbang in Feb. 2017 raised eyebrows in both B.C. and Ottawa, but the Trudeau government said at the time the company assured service levels in care homes would be maintained.

Noting that he also gets complaints about understaffing at non-Chinese owned care homes, Ashton said he wants to see all privately run centres, “bring their standards up to where they are supposed to be, at a minimum.”

“That’s going to involve Interior Health, the Province of B.C. and the Government of Canada.”

Medical school graduates face growing problems obtaining required residency positions

May 26, 2018

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UPDATED MAY 25, 2018

Around 115 medical-school graduates across the country will be without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017 and 77 the year prior.

Around 115 medical-school graduates across the country will be without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017 and 77 the year prior.


More than many Canadian medical schools, the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba seems to understand the current plight of the country’s medical students.

With around 115 medical-school graduates across the country without residency positions this year – up from 99 in 2017, and 77 the year prior – the school acknowledges the state of limbo that these students face.

Quite simply, without those two-to-seven years of required training in their fields following graduation from faculties of medicine, they are unable to practise.

“It’s not a degree that you can move into the work force without residency training, so it really does strand you,” says Dr. Brian Postl, dean of the Max Rady College of Medicine and the university’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Residency positions are allocated through a process known as matching, in which students rank their preferred specialties and residency locations and the medical schools do the same, with a system of algorithms determining a match. If students are passed over in the first round of selection, they can try again in the second round of matching. However, if they are unable to find a match at that point, they have to wait a year.

The number of unmatched students is increasing on a yearly basis; this year, there were 101 positions available for every 100 graduates, compared with a ratio of 110:100 in 2009. But many of those left over are francophone positions in Quebec, and/or in locations or specialties which students didn’t rank among their preferences.

To help address the problem, the University of Manitoba has devised something of a solution, offering positions for any of its unmatched students.

“We, for a very long time, have felt that there was an inherent crap-shoot effect to the match [process] that we were uncomfortable with ,” Dr. Postl says of the policy, which was approved by the faculty council six or seven years ago.

According to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), which represents the country’s medical faculties, the University of Manitoba’s ability to find matches for unmatched graduates is unparalleled at other schools. “It is the ideal [solution] of course,” Marie-Hélène Urro, the communications co-ordinator at AFMC, said in an e-mail. Read more »

Local Health Advocates take Provincial Steps

May 17, 2018

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Andrea DeMeer
Spotlight Staff

May 17

Princeton is earning its spot on the health care map with local advocates taking a leadership role in the newly founded BC Rural Health Network.

Ed Staples, president of Support our Health Care, is directing the fledgling network, which already includes 10 other communities from Salt Spring Island to Trail and includes Nelson, Sicamous and Ashcroft.

“I guess the main reason is that rural British Columbians, for the most part, have been underserved by the health care system and that’s been a gradual erosion of services,” said Staples in an interview with The Spotlight.

“Rural communities have seen the services that are available to them centralized and regionalized and as a result that’s created all sorts of problems that people living in urban communities have no idea about.

Transportation, a chronic shortage of doctors, and longer wait periods for treatment are the common problems being experienced in small communities, said Staples.

“Those kinds of issues are things that we all share and what we are hoping to do is band together and provide rural BC a strong advocacy voice.”

While some of the solutions that rural communities would like to see implemented require provincial policy change, the network is also proving to be useful for sharing strategies that can be applied locally.

“Something that works well in one community might not have been thought of somewhere else,” said Staples.

Examples of Princeton models that are generating interest in other communities are the Love a Locum campaign, and the visiting specialist program, he added.

The network has been joined by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, a physician driven organization that has already provided funding and resources for promotional materials and a website.

The BC Health Coalition also recently established a relationship with the Rural Health Network.

“So it’s growing quite quickly and it’s growing in a very important way.”

The network members have so far just met using teleconference, but will have their first face-to-face gathering at the end of the month.


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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