About 80 people attended the opening of the Sayward Primary Healthcare Clinic.
Several years ago, a group was formed to get a medical clinic established.
They came very close to their goal, but inexplicably, the plan was abandoned at the last minute.
The closest hospital is 70-km away in Campbell River and while there is a doctor in Sayward who periodically provides medical care from a clinic set up in his home, there had been no dedicated space for a medical clinic.
To remedy that, about a year ago Mayor John MacDonald and the four-member council resurrected the idea. A meeting was held last summer to get us underway. The first thing we had to do was establish a non-profit society and so, five of us stepped forward that first evening to form the first board of directors and the Sayward Community Health Society was born.
The old village office was made available and approved as an appropriate space. It was renovated, furnished, and equipped by local people.
The building was declared a medical facility by Health Minister Mike DeJong in November and a public health nurse began working out of it.
A Campbell River-based physio therapist will begin offering services and we plan to have visiting doctors, nurses, dieticians, chiropractors, podiatrists, elder care specialists, mental health professionals and various educators lined up soon, just to name a few! All of the equipment and furnishings are donations from the community.
We are starting slowly with public health services and physio therapy. More services will be added over time with the ultimate goal being health care available 24/7 for the community of between 1,000 and 1,200 residents.
This is an exciting time for Sayward — in a time when many North Island communities are withering and dying, we are adding new services. I think this speaks volumes for the spirit of the people of Sayward and of North Islanders in general.
Aggie Pringle is the executive director of the
Sayward Community Health Society