A meeting was held at the OHC this week with Bob Burns Medical Director and Allison Cutler, Chief Administrator for Island Health, and Sujata Connors director for the Health Centre, and here are the key pointers of my observations.
Primary Care (at the OHC and in Oceanside):
Dr Van Der Weyde now has an additional 582 new phase 1 patients who were unassigned to any doctor in Oceanside, these being added to her existing list of patients. Island Health is now to commence on the 2nd category of patients who have a doctor, but they are not located in Oceanside.
Island Health will not be generating the position of a second primary care doctor until there is resolution as to how the new integrated team approach to the services provided in primary care has been determined. It was originally anticipated as many as 5 teams could eventually be operating when the OHC was planned in 2012. Progress is not as quick as obviously first thought. Discussion is now on-going with the local doctors to refine the "new model" that was originally defined for operation of the health centre. It seems the vision may be changing somewhat as experience is learnt after this 1st year of operation, making better use of the resources available, including the local doctors who may have been left out of the picture originally.
Studies conducted by the local doctors group called the Division of Family Practice believes 30% of residents still do not have a primary care doctor because they do not believe they need one at this time, and trust they will be able to get the services they need when the occasion arises. This is part of the BC Health Ministry goal of " A Doctor For Me". The division is also to report on their findings and goals to help attach some of these prospective patients in a report due October 2014. Dr Burns also advised that most doctor offices had an answering service advising patients of a back up office after hours if their particular doctor was not available. Residents should check this opportunity and advise QBRA or their own doctor if it is not working properly.
Urgent Care (OHC and Qualicum Beach local walk in clinic service trial):
The Urgent Care sector has been open almost 1 year at the OHC, which is still experiencing occasional challenges with staffing and therefore is making more use of nurse practitioners when a doctor is unavailable. Service otherwise seems to be gradually improving with lives being saved from time to time even though emergency cases are usually directed to NRGH. Dr Claire Bigelow is the director for this sector, and he is also one of the 4 practices in Qualicum Beach that opened up a limited capacity walk in clinic trial in August. They had 150 cases in 15 days when use was made of these services which should have alleviated the loading at the OHC during peak holiday/tourist season. The original plan was for 15 urgent cases a day at the OHC and it now averages 60 and during August peaked at 80! The total yearly number of patients is expected to top 27,000, some of which would otherwise have gone to Nanaimo Regional General hospital. There is space for 3 teams at the OHC. Any prospective doctors interested in joining the staff at the OHC for the Urgent or Primary Care facilities will be directed to Dr Bigelow for any future positions as they arise. I H has an administrative centre at NRGH for staffing positions that are presently open on the register for the whole island.
Other Services at the OHC:
Experiences at the Blood Clinic and X Ray Imaging sectors seems to be improving each month. Signage directing patients at entry to the OHC have been improved as has the voluntary staffing helping patients to the appropriate sections. A new coffee/snack kiosk is now planned and requests for project approval are under way.
Ambulance Service Relocation:
It seems that the move to relocate the service centre from Hirst Avenue in Parksville to the OHC is on hold due to recent changes in site location at the OHC and type of building, which will now be stick built rather than prebuild. It is not anticipated anything will happen until 2015 or perhaps later.
Physiotherapist Services after Major Surgery:
Several FOR A members had reported challenges finding Island Health physiotherapist services locally following major knee or hip surgery, when it is essential to get the proper treatment, conveniently and timely, not having to travel long distances into NRGH, at both great expense and duration. Sujata agreed to investigate the possible causes, and determine what local qualified private physiotherapist resourcing could be used when the public system seemed so challenging. If any QBRA members have stories to tell please contact your FOR A rep' Dave Golson at 250 738 0350.
Island Health recently published several documents outlining the End Of Life/Hospice Bed Plans for the whole island, including the central areas of Oceanside, Comox and Campbell River. Go to IH's website www.viha.ca and look for news dated August 8th 2014. The plan is to double the number of beds from 32 to 64 by 2020. Presently Oceanside has only 1 bed for 48,000 residents and that is at Eagle Park. The plans are for Oceanside to get 4 new beds allocated to some existing residential facility by 2016 and a further 1 by 2019. Members of FORA are doubting the prospects of these targets being met due to the present fiscal challenges of the present government and Health Ministry.
You may have been one of 6000 residents asked to fill out an I H survey in the Summer of 2013 asking for input on local health services. Those survey results are being analysed by staff and a new survey will be sent in October this year to both new residents and those 40% that responded, to establish what changes may have taken place.
The Integrated Health network funding that was a trial service for several local doctors and selected patients will end March 2015 and will not be renewed.