Princeton healthcare success shared

Members of the Princeton Healthcare Steering Committee visited Ashcroft to talk about reclaiming their health care.

Ed Staples

A community-led healthcare coalition is what finally got Princeton more doctors and a return to a 24/7 Emergency Room again, but it took more than the town expected.

First it took a lot of community discussion and soul searching, as well as a new way of thinking about healthcare.

Ed Staples and Nienke Klaver from Save Our Health Care and Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District director Brad Hope were in Ashcroft last Friday at the invitation of MLA Jackie Tegart to talk about how they got their health care moving on the right track again.

About 30 members of the public attended their presentation, including a delegation from Logan Lake who are presently without any doctors.

Hope said that two years ago Princeton went from seven family doctors and a fully functioning ER to three doctors – two of them over 70 years old – and an ER with irregular hours.

Residents were irate. They wrote letters, signed petitions, held rallies, and formed a coalition called Save Our Hospital.

Hope said the results of these actions were not good. Nothing seemed to happen, he said. “We were in limbo.”

They were spending $2,000 per month to bring in locums and wondering what else they could do to encourage doctors to come.

They developed a doctor recruitment plan with incentives, said Staples, but they found that other communities were doing the same thing. All of a sudden, they were in competition with other communities to provide more and more incentives, and it just wasn’t working.

“We said, ‘Look, we share the same problems. Let’s not fight against each other’.”

Staples said they had to change their attitude from one of confrontation and suspicion to mutual respect. They changed the name of their coalition from Save Our Hospital to something that didn’t have the same ring of desperation and negativity – Save Our Health Care, and together with Interior Health they began a research project with UBC-Oianagan.

A research facilitator brought together the community and asked questions like what’s working in local healthcare, what’s not working, and what needs to be improved?

Before the research began, said Hope, they knew everything. They knew what everyone wanted from their healthcare and from their hospital and from their doctors. And then they found out through the research that they didn’t know anything. “Things that we thought we agreed on, we didn’t agree on.”

They are still working on improvements to their healthcare, but the ER is open 24/7 again, they have four new physicians, three new RNs, a nurse practitioner and many other services.

Most communities go for the Red Carpet treatment in doctor recruitment, said Hope. But what he found when talking with doctors is that they’re not attracted by perks and incentives. They’re more interested in communities that are interested in healthy living. “Make it an interesting place for doctors to come and live,” he said.

Rural healthcare is on the Liberal agenda, said MLA Tegart. The Princeton story is muh bigger than doctor recruitment and hospitals.

“The key was community involvement,” she said. “And only because it was community led does it continue to grow.”

She said the Liberal’s Rural Caucus is focussed on healthcare this year and are looking at quotas and training and ways to get doctors to come and stay in rural parts of the province.

Just Posted

Cache Creek landfill extension set for September completion

Project has been delayed due to wildfires and floods over past two years

Drag races set to return for Graffiti Days weekend

Annual event features old favourites like the smoke show, and new events like a drive-in movie

Bonaparte River fishway, Thompson steelhead among projects awarded grant funding

More than $9 million will help 170 fish and wildlife projects around B.C.

Wellness clinics provide free, drop-in health information

New service in Clinton helps patients manage their health care and stay out of hospital

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read