Health centre doors to open

With the new Port hardy Primary Health Care Centre opening March 9,

With the new Port hardy Primary Health Care Centre opening March 9, what can residents expect from this long-awaited facility?

With a $2.6 million price tag, officials from Island Health Authority (IHA) and the local government alike, have promised a new “patient-centred” facility providing  “easily-accessible care”, easing strain on the Port Hardy Hospital emergency department.

The project is toted as an aspect of the Mount Waddington Health Services Stabilization Working Group – later renamed the Mount Waddington Working Group’s (CWG) – along with the IHA, push to develop “a community-led plan to stabilized health services in the Mount Waddington region” and build a sustainable health care system for both rural and town dwellers alike.

“Health care isn’t really the primary function of the municipal government, but it is a primary issue with the people of Port Hardy so we always have a stake there,” said District of Port Hardy Mayor Hank Bood.

“This was a poster child for former mayor Bev Parnham she did a lot of work in actual getting it here. We’ve been waiting a long time,” Bood said.

The facility is slated to feature an integrated care team, which includes physicians, nurse practitioners, as well as care co-ordinator staff.

Dr. Jeffrey Beselt, executive medical director for geography one for NIHA.

“Integrated primary care is really taking the existing model of patients seeing physicians in a practice and looking at how do we expand that to even better meet the needs of patients,” said Beselt.

“In addition to patients having the opportunity to see physicians, it will also provide the opportunity to see nurse practitioners and certainly in the future our hope is to expand beyond that and look at care coordinators and behaviourists and other expanded services,” Beselt said.

The health care centre will feature spaces for visiting specialists, and community practitioners such as regional dieticians, chronic disease management educators, home and community care, mental health and substance abuse staff.

Despite the state-of-the-art facility, the biggest hurdle, in Mountain Waddington and other rural areas, is retaining medical professionals, says Beselt, who added that in the coming months the region will see an influx of medical professionals.

Beselt, who has spent much of his career practising medicine in rural British Columbia, knows the issue of physician retention all-to-well.

He says in recent years he’s seen a number of government programs increase the number of medical professionals who stay longer, which then allows for better services and better continuity for patients.

“We are anticipating having a number of new physicians practising in the Mount Waddington area this summer, through the practice ready assessment program.

“There are many different programs that have been put in place to really increase our ability to recruit and ideally retain some of these highly-trained individuals,” Beselt said.