The Vancouver Island Health Authority has responded positively to the report from the Mt. Waddington Local Working Group aimed at stabilizing the health care issues in the region.
The LWG, made up of representatives from the medical profession, VIHA, First Nations and government, delivered its report and recommendations to VIHA in May. VIHA responded last week, with the LWG meeting Thursday to discuss the response.
VIHA has promised to provide $100,000 in funding for the LWG to move forward with its recommendations. The fund is to allow the LWG to form an implementation plan for what it describes as mission critical recommendations in its report.
One recommendation mentioned specifically in VIHA’s response is the development of two new integrated Primary Health Care sites, one in Port Hardy, the other in Port McNeill.
The ultimate goal of these integrated sites is to provide patients with access to a range of health care services under one roof, and the LWG also believes these types of facilities will be more attractive to medical professionals considering working in the area.
VIHA envisages having mobile integrated health care teams in place prior to the opening of these new facilities to provide seamless transition.
In an accompanying statement VIHA thanked the LWG and acknowledged the work done by its members, and stressed again their commitment to recruiting physicians to the North Island.
“VIHA is very aware of the physician shortage in Port Hardy and the concern this is causing residents. Community residents can be assured that a tremendous collaborative effort is underway by local physicians, VIHA’s Mt. Waddington leadership team, Aboriginal partners and local government officials, with assistance from VIHA’s recruitment office, to recruit and retain physicians to this and other communities in the region. Recent recruitment successes include a new physician to Port Hardy who will begin practicing in August and two new physicians to Port McNeill, one arriving imminently and the second arriving this fall.”
As an interim measure, VIHA has also provided $30,000 to boost efforts to recruit up to three new family physicians to Port Hardy while working with the LWG to develop a new long-term strategy for the recruitment and retention of physicians.
Mayor Bev Parnham issued a statement on behalf the LWG in which they welcome VIHA’s reaction to their report and say they are “cautiously optimistic that there will be a quick and sustainable response to the current medical crisis in Port Hardy.”
She said that the LWG “is encouraged by VIHA’s response to the recommendations on stabilization of health services in Mt. Waddington, recognizing the urgency of the situation in Port Hardy and the need for systemic change in the entire region.”