Health network to host local forum

The Mount Waddington Health Network will host a forum at Port Hardy Civic Centre, Nov. 5.

The Mount Waddington Health Network Forum at the Port Hardy Civic Centre, Nov. 5, will be an opportunity to gather information and discuss access to health services on the North Island. The provincial Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, will be the keynote speaker. Discussion of the One Contact system, Telehealth, the Division of Family Practice, and Mount Waddington Transit are also on the agenda.

To register for the forum, which runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., please contact Bettina at 250-902-6071 or Bettina.knopp@viha.ca. Lunch will be provided. There is no charge for the forum. Information tables will be available to place brochures. Hope to see you there!

* * *

The need for cost-effective delivery of increasingly complex treatment options to a fast-growing population of seniors is the focus of a wide range of elected representatives, policy makers and health administrators. As baby boomers age, creating a seniors bulge in the population, many minds are turning toward addressing the issue.

“In 2014, over six million Canadians were aged 65 or older, representing 15.6 per cent of Canada’s population. By 2030 — in less than two decades — seniors will number over 9.5 million and make up 23 per cent of Canadians. Additionally, by 2036 the average life expectancy at birth for women will rise to 86.2 years from the current 84.2 and to 82.9 years from the current 80 for men,” according to the Action Report for Seniors, www.seniors.gc.ca/build/theme-sc-ac/pdf/action_report_for_seniors.pdf.

Delivering health services in rural and remote areas is an additional systemic challenge, since for seniors outside urban areas the lack of transportation, lack of awareness of programs and services, relatively little access to information technology and health challenges that make accessing services difficult, are the norm.

Health service delivery is challenging not just in the Mount Waddington Region, but around the province, and even around the country. At all levels, discussions and service delivery innovations are underway. For example, to address the chronic shortage of health professionals, a key aspect of health service delivery outside urban areas:

• The idea of salaries and pension plans for doctors working in rural and remote areas was discussed by some attending the recent UBCM conference;

• The provincial Health Minister Terry Lake has announced a plan to train 84 paramedics  who will work in rural and remote areas of B.C.; and

• Divisions of Family Practice, community-based groups of family physicians, are now working together to achieve common health care goals (www.divisionsbc.ca/rural-remote).  The Rural and Remote Division North Vancouver Island Chapter includes the communities of Alert Bay, Port Alice, Port Hardy and Port McNeill.

At a more macro level:

• B.C.’s Seniors Advocate has been appointed to investigate and recommend solutions to systemic challenges faced by seniors; and

• Minister of State for Seniors, Alice Wong, is mandated to work with Minister of Health to promote the importance of healthy lifestyles for seniors and support communities in creating the conditions to encourage healthy aging through collaboration, outreach and strategic engagement.

We look forward to your involvement in discussions of access to health services Nov. 5.

Barb Park is coordinator of the Mount Waddington Health Network, which advocates for North Islanders across a spectrum of health and social services issues. info@mountwaddingtonhealthnetwork.com or 250-230-1238.

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