Health Network seeks solutions

Mount Waddington Health Network coordinator Barb Park talks health on the North Island.

If you are reading this, then the Steering Committee members of the Mount Waddington Health Network and the editor of the North Island Gazette agree to the idea that a regular column might be a good way to increase communication about health on the North Island.

You may have seen reference to the Health Network in a February or March issue of the Gazette.  The Network hosted a forum in Port McNeill and J.R. was there with his camera. If you saw a picture of someone standing on a chair holding a microphone, that was me. Thanks J.R.!

The Network holds Forums at least twice a year to share information about its activities; (its sub-Committees include Seniors, Youth, Addictions and Housing). Often a keynote speaker is invited. The forums also provide an opportunity for community members to let the Network Steering Cmte. know about health-related issues they are concerned about, and their recommendations or ideas on how to address these.  (The next forum is being planned for the fall of 2014.)

In addition to hosting forums, Health Network members are often very involved with a variety of activities in their communities, and they work on providing links between the Health Network and those other groups. The individuals on the Steering Cmte. represent the social services and health concerns of the communities on the North Island, with a special interest in ways to improve the quality of life and health services of residents.

The Health Network is a well-respected organization, at least down-Island, where we met with representatives from five other (newer) Vancouver Island Health Networks earlier this month to discuss ways of being effective.

The goal of each Network is to work on addressing problems that get in the way of good health. These might include the sometimes prohibitive cost of getting to medical appointments or the development and coordination of housing initiatives. Without listing them all, they are broadly called “social determinants of health”.

My hope is that by submitting regular articles to the North Island Gazette about a variety of activities on the North Island, volunteers will feel supported in the health promotion work they do. Often those who work on making life better in their communities struggle with getting the word out about what is available. By linking with community members I hope to help in this effort.

Barb Park is coordinator for the Mount Waddington Health Network.