Our Health Matters – WHAC working to improve healthcare

Monthly update from the Wellness and Health Action Coalition in Ashcroft.

Concerned about healthcare? A local group is doing something about it.

The Wellness and Health Action Coalition (WHAC) is a group comprised of local residents working toward an effective healthcare model for people living in the Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Spences Bridge and Walhachin area.

In partnership with several agencies, WHAC organized a community consultation process held last September that resulted in a report prepared by UBCO School of Nursing Associate Dr. Barbara Pesut. Through this consultation process, common areas of concern were identified by participants and have formed the basis for the Wellness and Health Action Coalition’s priorities going forward.

To start, WHAC is focussing on recruitment and retention of health care professionals, communication with key stakeholders, First Nations input on areas where additional support is required and transportation to meet health care needs.

WHAC has had an ongoing schedule of meetings since receiving the consultation report last Fall.

On Jan. 8, the core members met with Interior Health (IH) officials to discuss physician recruitment and retention, support for the work and challenges of local physicians, asset utilization, staffing and use of the ER, and potential increased involvement of BC Ambulance staff. Our meeting confirmed that recruiting and retaining health care professionals is key to creating a new and more effective way of delivering health care to our catchment area. WHAC members were encouraged to take the lead in local health care development and to become involved in recruitment activities. The IH advertising to attract physicians to Ashcroft has since been updated.

Transportation is a key priority for many. Some people are being serviced well by local transit and the Heath Connections bus, but many others are having difficulty with transportation to meet their health care needs. Sometimes those sent to Royal Inland Hospital in the ambulance find themselves without proper clothing and/or a ride to get home. To address this, the Hospital Auxiliary has partnered with the Royal Inland Auxiliary to help solve clothing needs. WHAC has been in contact with ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation to assure insurance coverage for volunteers providing transportation.

We are grateful to MLA Jackie Tegart for bringing the Princeton “Support Our Health Care” group to Ashcroft to share their experience, and we appreciate their continued interest. We appreciate the support of IH, especially for our mentors Berni Easson, Lannea Parfitt, Dr. Curtis Bell and Ann James as well as our Drs. Peedikayil and Govindasamy for their insight, help and encouragement.

Thanks also to our area residents for taking part as they can and holding to the idea that more effective rural health care can be accomplished.

You can help. Contact David Durksen 250-453-9864 or ddurksen@coppervalley.bc.ca for more information.

Alice Durksen