Presentation to Select Standing Committee on Health

Dr. Denise McLeod presents to the province’s select standing committee on health (from the Prince George Citizen – Brent Braaten, Photographer)

The following is the content of the presentation given to the BC Select Standing Committee on Health by Edward Staples, SOHC President:

July 4, 2016 – 11:00 am
Douglas Fir Committee Room (Room 226), Parliament Buildings, Victoria

Thank you for holding these public hearings on health care in British Columbia. I am here today representing the Support Our Health Care Society of Princeton and the BC Health Coalition as a member of their Steering Committee.

My original interest in the work of this committee was in 2014, when I made a written submission as President of the Support Our Health Care Society of Princeton. I’m pleased to see that the Committee is looking for more information on three of the original questions and that the information gathered on end-of-life care has now been released in the report, Improving End-of-Life Care for British Columbians. Congratulations to the Committee for the work you’ve done on that important issue.

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?

I’ve been a resident of Princeton for eight years and have been actively involved in health care in our community for the past four. For this reason, I feel most comfortable addressing the first question regarding health care services in rural British Columbia.

Princeton, I believe, is typical of what it means to live in a rural, remote community in BC. Our population base is roughly 5,000 (on a good day); our demographic consists of an ever larger senior population; our economy is based on forestry, mining, ranching, and, increasingly, tourism; and our nearest regional service centre (Penticton) is about an hour and a half away. Four years ago our community was in a health care crisis with only one doctor providing on-call service, 24 hour emergency department services only available on weekends, an acute shortage of health care professionals, and residents who were up in arms. Since then, through a collaborative effort involving local organizations, elected officials, health care practitioners, and IH administrators, Princeton is now in a much better position with four full time GPs, two NPs sharing a full time job, and a full complement of professional staff.

But our situation is still not ideal. We are still short one general practitioner and many residents are unattached and looking for a family doctor elsewhere in our area. At present, there are no practitioners accepting patients in the Okanagan-Similkameen region and Continue reading