The turnout for the health care update in Ashcroft on Nov. 25 was enough to shock the event’s organizers.
Around 180 people filed into the Ashcroft Community Hall after organizers had planned for 50. They came from Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Clinton, Spences Bridge and parts in between. There were dozens more from Lillooet, including Ashcroft’s two new doctors, Dr. Debra Obu and Dr. Amgad Zake, who are still undergoing assessment in Lillooet, learning about the health care process in British Columbia.
The event was hosted by MLA Jackie Tegart who expressed gratitude to the Wellness Health Action Coalition (WHAC).
WHAC member Ron Hood credited MLA Tegart for getting the ball rolling.
“It started in this room on April 2014,” he told the crowd, “when people from Princeton came. It was basically an invitation to action.”
That meeting was set up by Tegart. He said WHAC is looking for a model of health care that is unique to the community, and the two new doctors have indicated a willingness to work towards our new vision of health care, said Hood.
Dr. Nancy Humber, who runs the Practice Ready Assessment program and the outreach clinic in Lillooet, came to introduce the doctors and talk about her program.
“I feel very passionately about rural health care,” she said. “I am aware of the disparities between rural and urban people and how they access health care.”
She has been practicing in Lillooet for 20 years. “Yesterday’s thinking will get us nowhere,” she said. “Communities that advocate only for themselves makes us all more vulnerable.”
People had questions about how to access doctors and health care, and were told that they would need to contact the clinic.
Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said it was “very telling that there was such a big turnout. Health care here has eroded over time.” It would be nice to see five doctors, but Interior Health is short by 75.
Ashcroft Mayor Jack Jeyes said he was very happy with the meeting “and very blown away by the turnout. People now know that we’re working very diligently to solve some of the issues.” He added he would love to be in the position of needing even more doctors.